Japanese Minister of Finance Taro Aso yesterday said that he would visit the US from Monday next week to hold informal talks with US Vice President Mike Pence ahead of a second round of bilateral economic talks later this year.
Aso, who doubles as Japan’s deputy prime minister, also plans to meet top economic officials of US President Donald Trump’s administration, government sources told reporters on condition of anonymity.
Asked if the two sides would discuss North Korea, Aso said Pence was not the person directly in charge of the matter, so he did not know how the issue would be discussed.
North Korea fired a missile that flew over Japan and landed in waters off Japan’s northern Hokkaido Island early yesterday, marking a sharp escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
Aso had earlier expressed hope that the second round of economic talks would be held in October.
“There are some areas that need to be adjusted, so we are going to adjust them in order to hold [the next round of talks] by the end of this year,” Aso told reporters after a Cabinet meeting.
Japan-US trade talks “have dealt with frictions in the past, starting from the negotiations on textile in the 1960s, but this time we approached [the US], calling for cooperation, but not frictions,” Aso said.
He and Pence would likely discuss issues such as trade, investment and economic policies in accordance with the first round of economic talks launched in April, Aso added.
Aso is also to hold informal talks with US National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin during his visit scheduled for Monday to Wednesday next week, the sources said.
Aso and Pence have led the US-Japan economic dialogue.
However, some analysts worry that Trump’s administration, which is facing growing domestic turmoil, could pile pressure on the country’s trading partners for concessions that would boost US exports under his “America first” agenda.
The upcoming talks could also include the issue of safeguard tariffs Japan has imposed on frozen beef from the US and some other countries.
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