Japanese firms have been “good corporate citizens” in the United States by investing billions of dollars and creating numerous jobs there, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga maintained Thursday, brushing off criticism by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
Suga was asked by reporters to comment on Trump’s Wednesday news conference, when he said the U.S. doesn’t “make good deals anymore” with China, Japan and Mexico and is losing “hundreds of billions” of dollars with those countries every year.
“As of now, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, accumulated direct investment by Japanese firms has totaled $411 billion, and about 840,000 people have been employed,” Suga told a news conference.
Suga said he will not comment further on Trump’s remark because he has yet to take office.
Trump is set to be inaugurated on Jan. 20.
But in general, Suga said Tokyo believed “brisk trade and investment is the source of the dynamism of the Japan-U.S. economic relationship.”
“Our country will further develop and deepen the Japan-U.S. economic relationship. This won’t change” whoever becomes U.S. president, Suga said.
Suga was also asked to comment on Wednesday’s affirmation by U.S. Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson that the U.S. will defend Japan in the event China attempts to seize the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which are claimed by Beijing and Taiwan.
Suga pointed out top government leaders in Washington have “clearly” and repeatedly confirmed the Senkakus are under Japan’s administration and thus Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. security treaty would be applied.
Article 5 obliges Japan and the U.S. to jointly defend a Japanese-administered area if it comes under attack by a third party.
“We’d like the next U.S. secretary of state to maintain that position, too,” Suga said.
During the presidential election, Trump repeatedly threatened to withdraw U.S. forces from Japan unless Tokyo shoulders all financial costs for the U.S. to keep its military in the country.
The comments raised concerns that Trump could significantly reduce the U.S. military footprint here, but so far Trump and his aides have pledged to firmly maintain military ties with Japan.