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Abe-Trump Summit Results in Commitments to Joint Regional Infrastructure, but BMD Sales, Too

Nov. 6, 2017 (EIRNS)—Announced at the conclusion of President Trump’s two-day visit to Japan is an agreement to "offer high-quality United States-Japan infrastructure investment alternatives in the Indo-Pacific region," in the words of the White House read-out on the summit. Trump himself said it was "to invest in bold, new infrastructure projects." This is to be concretized on Tuesday with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S.’s Overseas Private Investment Corp. (OPIC) and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, the White House reports.

Likewise, a Memorandum of Cooperation on a Japan-United States Strategic Energy Partnership "to promote universal access to affordable and reliable energy in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa," was signed today between the U.S. Trade and Development Agency and Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The two leaders get along famously, including continuing the tradition of "golf diplomacy" started by Abe’s grandfather and President Eisenhower. Abe was effusive, saying at their joint press conference that he believes "that there has never been such close bonds intimately connecting the leaders of both nations as we do now in the history of Japan-U.S. alliance of more than half a century." Trump spoke also of his "extraordinary" relationship with Abe, and was emphatic that negotiations to reduce the United States' "massive trade deficit" with Japan will be done "in a very friendly way," and that he is sure it will be successful. He invited Japanese businessmen to build more factories and expand existing ones in the United States.

The summit was colored, however, by an emphasis by Abe and by the official White House reports on their discussions—more than by President Trump himself—that the two nations will ally against China and the Belt and Road Initiative, albeit without ever naming "China." Abe spoke of ensuring a "free and open maritime order based upon the rule of law [as] a foundation of the stability and prosperity of the international community," and a "free and open" Indo-Pacific, where "high-standard rulemaking" reigns in the entire Asia Pacific region—codewords for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Their joint emphasis on a hardline anti-North Korea stance, discussion of increased trilateral military interoperability, and exercises between Japan, South Korea, and the United States, and President Trump’s big push for Japan to make "massive" purchases of U.S. military equipment, feed the warhawks’ intent to keep alive a geopolitical approach to Asia. In particular, the announcement that Japan will be purchasing not just F-35A fighter planes from the U.S., but greater enhanced Aegis ballistic missile defense capabilities, reportedly against North Korea, will be viewed by China and Russia as part of the warhawks’ efforts to surround both with ballistic missile defense capabilities aimed at them.

Trump said, however, at the two leaders’ joint press conference, that he has "also developed some great friendships" with other leaders he will be visiting, where he is also sure "we’re going to work to straighten a lot of things out, including trade, including military problems."

Leave it to the New York Times to use the occasion to push explicitly for conflict with China! Correspondent Mark Landler asked President Trump:

"You’ve spent the last two days reaffirming the U.S.-Japan alliance, and you’ve begun sketching out this vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. But in two days, you’re going to travel to China, a country that is neither free nor open. So my question is, how can the U.S. be a force for freedom and openness in this region without inevitably coming into conflict with China?"

To which Trump replied that he has an "excellent" relationship with President Xi.

"I like him a lot. I consider him a friend. He considers me a friend. With that being said, he represents China; I represent the United States. His views are different on things, but they’re pretty similar on trade."

He spoke of the "very unfair trade situation" with China, which he hopes to resolve through "reciprocal trade," as he does with many countries, not just Japan and China, he added.