WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump criticized Japan’s safety regulations on food imports in a leaked conversation from mid-December when he was president-elect, news site Gizmodo has reported.
The report, published on Monday, is based on audio from a leaked video of what appears to be a Dec. 13 phone conversation between Trump and Wilbur Ross, then the nominee for secretary of commerce. Ross officially took up that post on Wednesday.
The recording was provided to Gizmodo anonymously, the site reported.
In the conversation, Trump expressed his intention to strengthen quarantine checks on Japanese food products. This suggests that he may criticize policy on agricultural trade with Japan in the future, including in planned bilateral economic dialogue.
“If you look at Japan, what they do with food … they say it’s not clean enough, and you have to send it back,” Trump said in the conversation.
Ross agreed and advised Trump “not to say it’s punitive, but in the interest of American safety” when strengthening quarantine measures on Japanese food imports.
Gizmodo said the conversation was recorded at a location that houses the offices of Ross’ private equity firm in Manhattan. The location was determined by checking metadata on the leaked video, the site said.
Neither Trump nor Ross can be seen in the video, which appears to have been taken while Ross was speaking in the next room, with Trump’s voice audible through a speaker phone, Gizmodo said.
As of Tuesday, the White House had not responded to requests for comment.
The video can bee viewed in full on the Gizmodo website.