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Trump talks trade frustration, North Korea cooperation in Tokyo

President Trump wrapped up his two-day visit to Japan with kind words toward Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, but also offered pointed criticism about the U.S. trade deficit with Japan. Trump's stop in Japan, the first in an extensive 12-day Asia tour, focused on trade and underscored the threat of North Korea’s developing nuclear weapons program. William Brangham reports.

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  • John Yang:

    We return to President Trump’s lengthy trip to Asia and the first stop on his visit, Japan.

    William Brangham reports.

  • William Brangham:

    It was mostly smiles and warm words today in Tokyo.

  • President Donald Trump:

    Our two great countries will have incredible friendship and incredible success for many centuries to come.

  • William Brangham:

    President Trump praised his host at a banquet ending his two-day stop in Japan, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe responded in kind.

  • Shinzō Abe:

     (Through interpreter) Yesterday’s golf diplomacy between Donald and me attracted so much attention. And we actually made everything public, except for the score. And through golf, we could demonstrate to the world how strong the bond is between Japan and the United States.

  • William Brangham:

    Indeed, after the president’s arrival on Sunday, the two men went straight to the golf course. They forged a friendship last February during Abe’s visit to Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

    But for all the golf and good feelings, the president also aimed some criticisms at the Japanese, specifically about trade.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We have to do more. The United States has suffered massive trade deficits with Japan for many, many years, almost $70 billion annually. Many millions of cars are sold by Japan into the United States, whereas virtually no cars go from the United States into Japan.

  • William Brangham:

    The president offered no new ideas on how to remedy the trade gap, but he defended his decision at the start of his term to pull out of the Trans-Pacific trade agreement, known as TPP.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We will have more trade than anybody ever thought of under TPP. That, I can tell you. TPP wasn’t the right idea. Probably some of you in this room disagree, but, ultimately, I will be proven to be right.

  • William Brangham:

    The New York Times’ Mark Landler is covering the president’s visit. He says Japan is unlikely to reopen trade talks.

  • Mark Landler:

     The problem that the administration has, not just in Japan, but around the region, is that all of these countries put a lot of political capital and domestic muscle into getting the TPP deal done. And they don’t really have the appetite or in some cases the political influence at home to enter into a bilateral negotiation at this point.

  • William Brangham:

    Mr. Trump also spent time underscoring the North Korea threat, starting with an address to U.S. troops just after his arrival Sunday.

  • President Donald Trump:

    No dictator, no regime, and no nation should underestimate, ever, American resolve.

  • William Brangham:

    Today, the president and the prime minister met with families of Japanese people who’ve been abducted over the years by North Korea.

    Mark Landler says the Japanese government has strongly endorsed the Trump strategy of maximum pressure on the North Koreans regarding their nuclear weapons program.

  • Mark Landler:

    Prime Minister Abe announced some unilateral sanctions today against North Korean individuals and entities. So, he’s putting a little bit of tangible action behind his words. And he also said that he supports President Trump’s statement that all options are on the table, including potential military action.

  • William Brangham:

    Abe himself made that clear at their joint news conference today.

  • Shinzō Abe:

     (Through interpreter) As far as shooting down missiles, we will shoot them down if necessary. But we will coordinate closely with the United States even on shooting down missiles.

  • William Brangham:

    President Trump endorsed that sentiment, and pushed again for Japan to buy more American hardware.

  • President Donald Trump:

    He will shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment from the United States.

  • William Brangham:

    With the visit completed, Mr. Trump’s next stop is South Korea.

    Before leaving Japan Tuesday morning local time, he tweeted that he and South Korean President Moon will — quote — “figure it all out.”

    For the PBS NewsHour, I’m William Brangham.

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