TOKYO -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters here on Nov. 13 that he and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence agreed in their meeting earlier in the day that United Nations sanctions against North Korea must be implemented strictly to realize the denuclearization of the country.
Standing side by side with Pence at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, Abe also said in his press statement that Japan and the United States agreed to maintain close coordination for "constructive dialogue" with China. Beijing's relationship with Washington is deteriorating because of the trade war waged by the administration of President Donald Trump. Abe said he briefed Pence about his recent visit to China, where he met President Xi Jinping.
Regarding the upcoming TAG (trade agreement on goods) talks between Tokyo and Washington starting as early as January, Abe said that the two leaders reconfirmed to cooperate. The two countries will try to make a "free and open Indo-Pacific region based on fair rules made more prosperous by expanding trade and investment between Japan and the United States in a mutually beneficial way," Abe said.
The premier added that he and the U.S. vice president also confirmed to continue working together for an early settlement of the issue of Japanese abductees held by North Korea, describing the issue as "the most important one for Japan."
Pence, on his part, emphasized that the U.S. commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, which spans the U.S. in the west and India in the east, was "steadfast and enduring" and pointed out the ties between Japan and the U.S. are stronger than ever.
As for the trade talks with Japan, Pence explained that President Trump thinks that the trade imbalance between Japan and the U.S. continued for too long, and needs to be adjusted. Pence visited Japan on his way to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit to be held in Singapore.
Tokyo expects Washington to take a stronger stance on bilateral trade issues after Trump's Republican Party lost the House of Representatives in the Nov. 6 midterm elections. The government of Japan thus wants to play up the image of a "strong Japan-U.S. alliance."