WASHINGTON – An aide to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a congressman close to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday affirmed the importance of Trump visiting Japan and the Indo-Pacific region at an early date.
Katsuyuki Kawai, a special adviser to Abe, said after meeting with Rep. Chris Collins, a member of the Trump transition team executive committee, in Washington that they also agreed Abe and Trump should hold a meeting as early as possible after Trump takes office Jan. 20.
The two agreed it is important that Trump “visit Japan and the Indo-Pacific region at an early date and actually feel regional situations through his eyes and ears,” Kawai told reporters.
Collins was quoted by Kawai as saying that he will directly convey the suggestion to Trump.
Referring to calls for an early Abe-Trump meeting, Kawai said he and Collins shared the view that such a meeting will be critically important for not only the two allies but the Group of Seven industrialized nations and the Indo-Pacific region.
The G-7 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.
Sources familiar with bilateral relations have said Abe and Trump are arranging a meeting in the United States in late January, shortly after Trump’s inauguration.
There is concern in Japan about Trump’s commitment to the alliance, given the New York business mogul’s suggestion during the presidential campaign that Washington would withdraw U.S. troops from Japan, South Korea and other allies if they do not pay more of the cost of stationing U.S. forces there.
Standing side by side with Abe at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii in late December, U.S. President Barack Obama said the Japan-U.S. alliance “has never been stronger” and “stands as the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and a force for progress around the globe.”