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Trump urges greater Japanese investment in US, knocks trade advantage

US President Donald Trump attends a Japanese business leaders event in Tokyo, Japan May 25, 2019 Photograph:( Reuters )

Reuters Tokyo May 25, 2019, 05.21 PM (IST)

US President Donald Trump urged Japanese business leaders on Saturday to increase their investment in the United States while saying Japan had a substantial edge on trade that negotiators were trying to even out.

Trump arrived in Japan on Saturday for a largely ceremonial visit meant to showcase strong ties with Tokyo even as trade tensions loom. He told the group of top business executives there had never been a better time to invest in the United States.

He said he hoped to address the trade imbalance between the United States and Japan and ensure fairness and reciprocity.

"Japan has had a substantial edge for many, many years, but that’s OK, maybe that’s why you like us so much," he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will treat Trump to an imperial banquet and front row seats at a sumo tournament during the trip, which lasts through Tuesday.

The two men share a warm relationship, which the Japanese leader aims to emphasize as Washington considers tariffs on Japanese auto exports that the Trump administration views as a potential national security threat.

The United States is in the middle of an expensive trade war with China in protest against Beijing's treatment of US companies, and tensions with Japan and the European Union over trade are simmering.

Trump and Abe are expected to discuss trade during talks on Monday, but officials have played down the possibility of a deal during the visit.

Trump will become the first foreign leader to be received by new Japanese Emperor Naruhito since he inherited the throne earlier this month.

He made clear during an impromptu news conference on Thursday that he was flattered by the invitation.

"Prime Minister Abe said to me, very specifically, 'You are the guest of honor.' There's only one guest of honor ... I'm the guest of honor at the biggest event that they've had in over 200 years," Trump said.

"So it's a great thing. And we get along very well with Japan. I get along very well with the prime minister."

On Sunday, Trump and Abe are expected to play golf and attend a sumo match. On Monday, they will discuss North Korea's nuclear and missile programs in addition to trade.

A medium-strength earthquake hit eastern Japan, causing buildings to shake in Tokyo, hours before Trump's arrival.

The epicenter was southern Chiba, southeast of the capital, the prefecture where Trump is due to play golf on Sunday.

No tsunami warning was issued and there were no immediate reports of damage.

Story highlights

Trump arrived in Japan on Saturday for a largely ceremonial visit meant to showcase strong ties with Tokyo even as trade tensions loom. He told the group of top business executives there had never been a better time to invest in the United States.