The US vice president is in Japan for talks. Mike Pence is hoping to reassure Tokyo, a key ally, amid rising tensions over North Korea.
The White House is also hoping the discussions will open the doors for US goods and attract infrastructure investment.
Pence landed in Tokyo from South Korea after a trip that included a visit to the heavily-fortified border separating the North and South.
He described the US-Japan alliance as the “cornerstone” of regional security.
A view to certainly remember as Air Force Two with VP Mike Pence passes Mt Fuji en route to Tokyo. #VPinAsia pic.twitter.com/TkGzXLvgxf— Marc Lotter (VPPressSec) 18 avril 2017
Pence first joined a working lunch with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before meeting Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso for economic talks.
US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has met Japanese trade minister Hiroshige Seko. Ross told reporters he is eager to increase trade ties with Tokyo through a two-way agreement.
US Vice President Mike Pence seeks to reaffirm security commitments to Japan as North Korea tensions rise https://t.co/FUI2E4X7b2— AFP news agency (@AFP) 17 avril 2017
What is the aim of the trip?
To emphasise that US President Donald Trump wants to boost US trade in the region.
Mike Pence also wants to reassure Tokyo amid rising tensions in the region about North Korea.
But Trump has abandoned the TPP..
Yes. Advocates for the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact say it would have opened markets for US exports.
It was negotiated by former President Barack Obama and supported by Abe.
US business groups supported the deal but labour unions argued it would hurt US workers.
Trump campaigned for office on an “America First” platform, saying he would boost US manufacturing jobs and shrink the country’s trade deficit with countries like Japan.
He also vowed to renegotiate existing regional trade deals to focus on bilateral agreements.
A White House adviser said Tuesday’s talks would not prescribe a free-trade deal, but talks might eventually lead to such negotiations.
The Trump administration reportedly wants to attract more foreign direct investment.
Pence will take that message to upcoming stops this week in Jakarta and Sydney. He is due to meet corporate leaders at each of his stops to reassure businesses that trade in the US is worth their while.
Will there be an immediate announcement of a trade deal?
No immediate announcements are expected. However, the White House is expecting a “handful” of investment announcements while Pence is in Australia at the weekend.
What Japan says
Aso told reporters before the talks he would not discuss any bilateral free trade talks with Pence.
What they are saying
“It is a little bit early to say just what forms things will take but we are certainly eager to increase our trade relationships with Japan and to do so in the form of an agreement,” – Wilbur Ross talks about a possible FTA.