Japan PM Abe to meet US President-elect Trump in New York next week

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) speaks to soldiers of the Ground Self-Defense Force during a military parade at Camp Asaka.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (centre) speaks to soldiers of the Ground Self-Defense Force during a military parade at Camp Asaka. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is to meet US president-elect Donald Trump next week in New York, officials said on Thursday (Nov 10) after telephone conversation between the two following the billionaire's shock election win.

Mr Abe and Mr Trump spoke for about 20 minutes and tentatively set a date of Nov 17 for the meeting, just before Mr Abe goes to Peru for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, a Japanese foreign ministry official told AFP.

During his election campaign, Mr Trump raised eyebrows in Japan by calling on the country to pay more to support the cost of stationing US forces.

He even suggested that Japan might want to become a nuclear power to counter unpredictable neighbour North Korea, which has repeatedly conducted nuclear and ballistic missile tests to international condemnations and prompting UN sanctions.

That statement shocked many in Japan, the only country in the world to have been attacked with nuclear weapons.

Mr Trump has also rejected the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal pushed by President Barack Obama and which Mr Abe hopes his parliament will ratify soon.

Mr Abe congratulated Mr Trump soon after his victory on Wednesday, vowing that the countries would maintain their close relationship, calling them "unshakeable allies".

During their phone talks, Mr Abe "talked about the importance of the bilateral relationship and the Japan-US alliance", which he stressed underpins the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region, the foreign ministry official said.

In response, Mr Trump said he hoped to strengthen the US-Japan relationship further, the official said. He also said he appreciated Mr Abe's economic policy and looked forward to working with him, she added. She declined to elaborate on what else they discussed.