JAPAN/TRADE DEALS/TRUMP AS PRESIDENT: “Donald Trump and his team surely figured Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe would be an easy mark in U.S.-Japan trade talks. No world leader, after all, has subjugated himself more to the dealmaker in chief than Abe. Abe has presented Trump with golden gifts; the two have golfed together; most recently, Abe invited Trump to be the first world leader to meet Japan’s new emperor in May. Not to mention Abe’s letter reportedly trying to nominate Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. But things didn’t go as planned last week as the leaders of the No. 1 and No. 3 economies in the world met in Washington. There are already signs Trump won’t find Japan the compliant partner he expects—and his own policies might be to blame. Trump and Abe were discussing a bilateral trade deal intended to narrow the $60 billion U.S trade deficit with Japan, a deal Trump has said will ‘be something very exciting.’ Since the 1980s, Trump has been a vocal critic of Japan’s export industry, particularly cars, and as president, he hopes to swing the trade relationship in America’s favor. According to Japanese media reports, however, Abe quickly balked on some key points: He resisted Trump’s demand at their meeting for quick access to Japan’s agricultural market; he made clear that Tokyo wants currency issues set aside for now; and he said Japan expects concessions from Washington, too.”

William Pesek, “How Abe Is Outsmarting Trump on Trade,” Politico, May 2, 2019