Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will seek to establish good personal ties and pitch the importance of the bilateral security alliance when he meets US President-elect Donald Trump in New York next week, officials said on Thursday.
A Japanese government official said the pair had already talked by telephone and confirmed close cooperation, stressing the importance of the Japan-US alliance in the Asia-Pacific region.
Abe will meet Trump in New York next Thursday before going on to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru.
"Trump may take longer than usual to build his administration as he searches for people to fill key policy positions," Tetsuya Otsuru, a senior Japanese foreign ministry official, said in a speech in Tokyo. "We want to safeguard our alliance with the United States during the transition."
Trump`s unexpected victory has fanned Japan`s anxiety about Washington`s commitment to security arrangements in the face of a rising China and a volatile North Korea.
His "America First" rhetoric and calls for Japan and South Korea to pay more of the cost for US troops in the region or face their possible withdrawal have worried officials.
So has his opposition to a 12-nation pan-Pacific trade pact that was a linchpin of Washington`s "pivot" to the region.
"Abe has big concerns on trade and security and on both of these, candidate Trump has been decidedly unreassuring," said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple Univerity`s Japan campus.
"Abe will politely try to explain why the alliance is so important and that Trump needs to retreat from some of his assertive rhetoric," Kingston said.
Japanese companies play a key role in the US economy, employing more than 800,000 American workers. They contributed $78 billion to US exports in 2014, according to the US embassy in Tokyo.
Japanese officials said they had already been in touch with Trump`s advisers but acknowledge they had a better understanding of the policies of defeated Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.
"We are certainly concerned about the comments he has made to date about the alliance and the US role in the Pacific," said a Japanese government source. "I hope our team starts working as soon as possible to rectify his perceptions."
Abe was quick to offer Trump congratulations, praising his "extraordinary talents" as a businessman.
"I very much look forward to closely cooperating with you to further strengthen the bond of the Japan-US alliance," Abe said in a statement after Trump`s win was confirmed.
Abe and US President Barack Obama never really appeared to click personally. A ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker said he hoped Abe and Trump could develop the close personal "Ron-Yasu" ties seen between then-president Ronald Reagan and former Japanese prime minister Yasuhiro Nakasone in the 1980s.
“Trump is a practical businessman and he thinks in terms of profit and loss," Masashi Adachi, head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s foreign policy panel, told Reuters.
"If we explain that the US-Japan alliance is in US interests, he will understand its importance on balance.”