Japan-US ties seen stronger after Trump and Abe golf, trade deal 'coming': US congressman

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) and US President Donald Trump shaking hands after a press conference in the White House on Feb 10, 2017, in Washington, DC.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (left) and US President Donald Trump shaking hands after a press conference in the White House on Feb 10, 2017, in Washington, DC.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (Reuters) - The relationship between the United States and Japan will only get stronger after US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe forged a good rapport on the golf course, a US congressman said on Monday (Feb 20).

"(Abe) seems to have a good rapport with President Trump," Billy Long, a Republican and a co-chairman of the Congressional Study Group on Japan, told reporters after meeting Abe in Tokyo.

"They really built a good relationship on the golf course so I think you'll see a trade deal coming."

Abe visited Trump in the United States this month where they reaffirmed their commitment to use fiscal, monetary and structural policies to strengthen domestic and global demand.

Soon after taking office Trump pulled the United States out of the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership multilateral trade accord that Japan backed as a bulwark against a rising China.

After his talks with Trump, Abe said Japan and the United States had agreed on a new framework for economic dialogue.

Key decisions on economic policy will likely be made at a bilateral economic dialogue, to be led by US Vice-President Mike Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who is also finance minister.

Trump also set aside campaign pledges to force Japan to pay more for US defence aid.

The two leaders also played golf.

Long, who visited Tokyo with more than a dozen American politicians and aides, said he was optimistic about relations between Japan and the United States.

"We just want to continue the strong relationship we have with Japan," he said "I think it's only going to get stronger."