Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to seek reassurances that President-elect Donald Trump remains committed to the US-Japan security alliance when the two meet in New York on Thursday.
Abe, who departed for New York to attend the Asia-Pacific Trade Summit in Peru, will become the first foreign leader to meet Trump after the November 8 presidential election result was announced.
"I am very honoured to see the President-elect ahead of other world leaders. The Japan-US alliance is the axis of Japan's diplomacy and security. The alliance becomes alive only when there is trust between us. I would like to build such a trust with Trump," Abe told reporters before his departure.
Statements made by Trump during the campaign have caused consternation in many world capitals, including Tokyo. A top aide to Abe, Katsuyuki Kawai, however, said that he was told by members of Trump's transition team that President-elect’s previous remarks should not be taken literally.
Trump had said that he would demand that allies such as Japan and South Korea contribute more to the cost of basing US troops in their countries. Such comments have worried Japan at a time when the threat from North Korea is rising, and China is challenging the US-led security status quo in the Pacific.
Both Japan and South Korea already pay considerable sums to support the US bases, and note that it's also in America's strategic interest to deploy troops in the region.
Abe may also try to sway Trump on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-country trade agreement that the president-elect opposes.
It appears unlikely that the US Congress will ratify the treaty. The pact is expected to be discussed in a side meeting at the annual summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Community in Peru, where Abe heads after New York.