Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday (17 November) said that he would like to build a relationship of trust when he meets with the President-elect Donald Trump and insisted that the friendship between the two countries is important to Tokyo's diplomacy and security.
Abe, who will meet Trump later on Thursday, will be the first foreign leader to do so since Trump's election victory on 8 November.
The alliance between Japan and US "is the cornerstone of Japan's diplomacy and security. Only when there is trust does an alliance come alive," Kyodo news agency quoted him as saying. Abe added, "I am very honored to see the President elect ahead of other world leaders."
Katsuyuki Kawai, a top aide to Prime Minister Abe, who landed in New York on Monday to meet several Trump advisers and members of the transition team, said that he'd been asked by Trump transition members to not interpret campaign rhetoric literally. "All the people shared the same opinion — that we don't need to be nervous about every single word and phrase said during Mr Trump's campaign," Kawai told Japanese broadcaster NHK.
At the time of the campaign, Trump said that US military could be withdrawn from Japan and South Korea, two long time allies, if they do not pay for upkeep. In an interview with Anderson Cooper in March, Trump indicated that Japan, which had a pacifist constitution until last year, should get nuclear weapons to protect itself from North Korea, reports CNN.
At the time Abe in a public response said "whoever will become the next president of the United States, the Japan-US alliance is the cornerstone of Japan's diplomacy," CNN reported.
According to Reuters, details of the meeting are still unclear. Japanese officials on Wednesday said that they have not yet finalised when or where in New York the meeting would take place.
Tomohiko Taniguchi, a special adviser to Abe said that "He will have to work with Trump for the next four years. This will be good opportunity for them to get to know each other well." Taniguchi added that the US commitment to Japan is larger than the relationship between the two countries and it is a commitment to a wider Indo-Pacific region.