US President Donald Trump speaks during an announcement on the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN
US President Donald Trump speaks during an announcement on the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on February 27, 2018 in Washington, DC. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN

Tokyo: US President Donald Trump arrived in Japan Saturday for a four-day trip likely to be dominated by warm words and friendly images, but relatively light on substantive progress over trade. Trump Saturday vowed to make the US trade relationship with Japan a “little bit more fair”, as he kicked off a four-day visit to Tokyo aimed at cementing ties between the two close allies. Trump’s four-day trip is expected to feature plenty of warm words and images as he plays golf and watches sumo with his “friend” Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister.

But the world’s top and third-biggest economies are also thrashing out a trade deal and Trump wasted no time in lashing out at what he sees as an imbalance between the pair. “Japan has had a substantial edge for many, many years. But that’s OK, maybe that’s why you like us so much,” Trump told leaders from some of Japan’s leading companies, including Toyota, Honda and Nissan. After a bilateral trade deal has been signed, it will be “a little bit more fair,” vowed the president. “With this deal we hope to address the trade imbalance, remove the barriers to United States exports and ensure fairness and reciprocity in our relationship. We’re getting close,” said Trump. He added: “We hope to have several further announcements soon and some very big ones over the next few months.” Some observers suspect Abe is rolling out the red carpet to present Japan as the most favourable of the countries currently engaged in trade disputes with Washington but little concrete progress is expected with elections looming for the Japanese PM.