Economic talks between the United States and Japan, tackling topics from persimmons and potatoes to energy and infrastructure, have helped keep Tokyo clear of protectionist moves such as those that recently hit Chinese solar panels and South Korean washers. Japan hopes that “let’s talk” approach – plus warm personal ties between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump – will keep friction in check. But officials and lawmakers say the outlook could change if the unpredictable U.S. leader turns his attention to Tokyo’s 7 trillion yen ($63.62 billion)trade surplus ahead of U.S. congressional elections in November. Also efforts to showcase the U.S.-Japan security alliance in the face of North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats will probably take precedence over trade when U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits Japan from Tuesday, officials on both sides said.
After North Korea threatened to pull out of the high-level talks between Kim Jong Un and