Japan's prime minister said his round of golf with visiting President Donald Trump was a good chance to relax and discuss difficult issues. But his latest comments raised more than hackles as automotive observers pointed out that Japan has invested heavily in U.S. automotive manufacturing over the past three decades. Meanwhile, Japanese automakers have become some of the largest automotive exporters from the U.S. In 2016, for example, Toyota shipped over 135,000 vehicles - over half an assembly plant's worth - from the U.S.to 40 foreign markets. The two men also put a face on the threat posed by the North, earlier standing with anguished families of Japanese citizens snatched by Pyongyang's agents, as Trump called their abductions "a tremendous disgrace". The president will also visit South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
"He is a highly respected and powerful representative of his people".
Trump made automotive manufacturing and jobs a central tenet of his 2016 campaign for the White House.
Trump's visit to Japan comes ahead of the annual leaders' summits of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. In the process, China will be forging closer economic and political links with nearly every country on the Eurasian continent - leading many in the United States to view the BRI as a geopolitical plot rather than the "win-win" effort China insists it is. But I hope to have fun so that it will be engraved in my memory.
That event, like so much formal diplomacy in Asia, is stepped in tradition, with violations of protocol potentially considered grievous offenses.
CNN ran a fact-check article headlined, "Trump asks Japan to build cars in the U.S. It already does", mocking the president for being unaware of the millions of cars Japan already builds in the U.S.
Japan orchestrated a lavish formal welcome for the Trumps, complete with military honor guard and an audience with Japan's Emperor Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko, at the Imperial Palace. He said the multinational agreement was not the right deal for the United States and that while "probably some of you in this room disagree ... ultimately I'll be proven to be right". Trump also paid his respects at the Pearl Harbor memorial.
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