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Taro Aso

Japan to pitch new trade dialogue to draw Trump back to TPP


The Japanese government on Friday greeted with cautious optimism the news that U.S. President Donald Trump is willing to explore re-entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, while stressing that Washington should accept the original terms. “If this means that President Trump is correctly evaluating the significance and effects of the TPP, it’s something we want to welcome,” Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s minister in charge of the TPP, said after a Cabinet meeting. But he added: “The 11 participating countries share the thinking that it would be extremely difficult to take out part of the TPP and renegotiate or change it.

“The U.S. withdrawal from the TPP shortly after Trump’s inauguration last year made Japan the largest of the 11 Pacific Rim economies left in the deal. Those countries signed a new version last month that had been revised to account for the U.S. absence. Finance Minister Taro Aso suggested that Trump’s shift on the pact should be approached with caution. The shift comes amid a developing trade dispute between the United States and China, which did not take part in the TPP.

‘A hysteric anti-Pyongyang racket’: North Korea accuses Abe of playing up nuclear threat to win election


North Korea on Saturday accused Japan’s ruling party of playing up a nuclear threat posed by Pyongyang to achieve a huge win in last weekend’s general election. The North’s Korea-Asia-Pacific Peace Committee also criticised Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for planning to ask US President Donald Trump to ratchet up pressure on Pyongyang when he visits Tokyo early next month. Earlier this week, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso attributed the ruling party’s electoral victory to North Korea’s rising threat, a view he altered on Friday in the face of criticism from opposition lawmakers. “Abe and his group should know that they are playing a dangerous gamble by putting the prospect of their island country and the destiny of their people at stake”, the North Korean statement said. During the election campaign, Abe focused on Japan’s heightened security concerns given North Korea’s continued testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles in defiance of UN resolutions forbidding such activity and crippling economic sanctions. In connection with Trump’s visit to Japan from November 5, it warned that “the whole Japanese islands can bury into the bottom of the sea if they go reckless by acting a stooge in the US racket for escalating confrontation with the (North Korea) and in its war moves while chiming in with old lunatic Trump’s crazy remarks”. But verbal threats from North Korea continue, and Japanese, South Korean and US officials are preparing for a possible provocation during Trump’s five-nation Asia trip, which will also include visits to Seoul and Beijing.

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