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Defense spending may rise as Abe tells Trump Japan will buy more US equipment

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Lotte New York Palace hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told U.S. President Donald Trump during talks on Sept. 26 that Japan would continue to buy high-tech defense equipment including from the United States, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a Sept. 28 news conference.

Abe was apparently seeking to ease Trump's dissatisfaction over the U.S.'s trade deficit with Japan. However, purchasing more equipment including that offered through the United States' Foreign Military Sales program would contribute to an increase in Japan's defense spending. This could draw fire from opposition parties in Japan.

According to Suga, Abe told Trump during their talks, "To deal with the difficult security situation, we will continue to purchase high-performance equipment, including American equipment." Suga quoted Abe as adding, "This is important for strengthening our country's defense capabilities." Abe had made similar remarks in a summit with Trump in April.

The Japanese government did not disclose earlier that Abe's latest talks with Trump touched on the issue of defense equipment. But in a news conference on Sept. 26, Trump said that he had told the Japanese side, "We don't want these big deficits. You're going to have to buy more (U.S. products)." Trump also told reporters at the news conference, "They're buying massive amounts of equipment, and military equipment."

At the end of the year, the Japanese government plans to formulate its next five-year medium term defense plan that will come into effect next fiscal year. The plan is expected to include the purchase of defense equipment including the land-based Aegis Ashore missile defense system, and F-35 stealth fighter jets.

(Japanese original by Shinichi Akiyama, Political News Department)

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