Trump and Abe talk trade as well as relations with North Korea

Hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, US President Donald Trump said the tariffs could be a topic during the visit. (AP)
Updated 18 April 2018
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Trump and Abe talk trade as well as relations with North Korea

  • The two-day Trump-Abe summit played out amid growing tensions between the two countries over North Korea and trade
  • Abe had been expected to urge to Trump to exempt Japan from the tariffs and press him on the missile issue

PALM BEACH, Florida: Seeking to reassure Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of their close alliance ahead of planned talks with North Korea, the Trump administration has signaled it is open to considering exempting Japan from new steel and aluminum tariffs that Abe opposes.
Hosting Abe at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Trump said the tariffs could be a topic during the visit, which comes as Trump prepares for a historic summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
Trump also gave Abe a win on Tuesday, pledging to raise the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea, a top Japanese priority, in his meeting with Kim.
But Trump later suggested there was one area where he and Abe would have to agree to disagree: the Trans-Pacific trade partnership, which Trump pulled the US out of days after his inauguration, but has recently said he might be open to re-joining.
“While Japan and South Korea would like us to go back into TPP, I don’t like the deal for the United States,” Trump tweeted, following a dinner with Abe and their wives. “Too many contingencies and no way to get out if it doesn’t work. Bilateral deals are far more efficient, profitable and better for OUR workers.”
The two-day Trump-Abe summit played out amid growing tensions between the two countries over North Korea and trade. Japan has warned that Kim may simply be trying to buy time and has raised concerns that the US might not press Kim to abandon his short- and medium-range missiles, which pose an immediate threat to Japan, as they discuss the country’s nuclear weapons program.
Japan has also been questioning why it wasn’t granted exemptions to Trump’s protectionist measures on steel and aluminum when most other key US allies — among them Australia, Canada, the EU and Mexico — have been.
But Abe spent much of Tuesday praising Trump’s courage for agreeing to meet and suggested the two had already come to terms on several contentions issues.
Speaking through a translator during one of their meetings, Abe said he and Trump had had “very in-depth discussions” on both North Korea and economic issues and said that “on those two points” they had “successfully forged a mutual understanding.”
The two did not reveal what those agreements were, but Abe had been expected to urge to Trump to exempt Japan from the tariffs and press him on the missile issue.
Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, had said earlier Tuesday that issuing Japan the waiver was “on the table,” but he declined to say what Trump would ask for in return.
The talks came amid news that CIA Director Mike Pompeo had recently traveled in secret to North Korea to meet with Kim ahead of a US-North Korea summit planned in the next two months. Two officials confirmed the trip to The Associated Press on Tuesday. The officials were not authorized to discuss the visit publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
In the first news report about the meeting, The Washington Post said it had taken place two weeks ago, shortly after the CIA chief was nominated to become secretary of state.
Trump had revealed earlier Tuesday that the US and North Korea had been holding direct talks at “extremely high levels” in preparation for the summit. Trump also confirmed that North and South Korea are negotiating an end to hostilities before next week’s meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The meeting will be the third inter-Korean summit since the Koreas’ 1945 division.
“They do have my blessing to discuss the end of the war,” Trump said.
Trump said five locations for the summit are under consideration.
Trump took credit for the inter-Korean talks, saying, “Without us and without me, in particular, I guess you would have to say, they wouldn’t be discussing anything.”


Nissan post-Ghosn governance steps, board win shareholders’ approval

Updated 35 min 27 sec ago
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Nissan post-Ghosn governance steps, board win shareholders’ approval

  • The Japanese automaker had seen profits and dividends tumble amid a high-profile scandal involving its former chairman Carlos Ghosn
  • Some shareholders expressed worries about the future of the automaker

YOKOHAMA, Japan: Scandal-battered Nissan won shareholders’ approval Tuesday for a new system of committees to oversee governance and for keeping Chief Executive Hiroto Saikawa on its board.
The Japanese automaker had seen profits and dividends tumble amid a high-profile scandal involving its former chairman Carlos Ghosn. Some shareholders expressed worries about the future of the automaker.
Saikawa and the other board members, including French alliance partner Renault Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard, bowed deeply at the meeting at a convention center in the port city of Yokohama, where Nissan Motor Corp. is based.
“I’d like to offer my deepest apologies, representing the company, for how the misconduct has caused serious concern for our shareholders,” Saikawa said.
Ghosn, who led Nissan for two decades, was arrested in November and is awaiting trial in Japan on charges of financial misconduct, including falsifying documents related to retirement compensation. He says he is innocent.
The proposals to have committees overseeing compensation, board nominations and auditing required a majority of shareholders for a quorum and two-thirds of those voting for passage.
Approval was shown by clapping among the more than 2,800 people present at the meeting. Most of the votes were submitted in advance.
French automaker Renault, which owns 43 percent of Nissan, had earlier signaled it may abstain, saying it wanted more representation on the committees.
To satisfy that request, the committees have Senard, who replaced Ghosn on the Nissan board, and Renault Chief Executive Thierry Bollore.
Saikawa told shareholders he had “two kinds of responsibility,” for what had happened in the past as well as building toward a future and a recovery, including nurturing his successor.
“I would like to work toward putting Nissan on a stable track,” he said, asking for shareholders’ approval for his remaining as Nissan’s leader. “I want to speed up the preparations for a succession.”
Although Nissan has been trying to put the scandal behind it, many have been wondering why the alleged wrongdoing, if true, had gone unchecked, especially how much Saikawa knew. One shareholder asked whether Nissan officials besides Ghosn shared in the alleged misconduct.
For the fiscal year that ended in March, Nissan’s profit plunged to about half of what it was the previous year, partly because of the scandal, as well as problems in the lucrative North American market. The maker of the Leaf electric car and Infiniti luxury models is projecting a further deterioration in its earnings, but promising a recovery for the year after that.
It logged $83 million (¥9.2 billion) in costs for the fiscal year that ended in March from alleged underreporting of Ghosn’s compensation.
The proposal, which won shareholders’ approval, called for an 11-member board, including seven outside directors such as Andrew House, formerly with Japanese electronics and entertainment company Sony Corp.
For the appointment of directors, a third of the shareholders made for a quorum, and passage needed a simple majority of those voting.
Some analysts suggest a deepening rift between Renault and Nissan after a planned merger between Renault and Fiat Chrysler fell through earlier this month. Nissan expressed reservations about immediately joining the merger.
Some shareholders expressed worries about the alliance, and one who stood up to ask a question said the main person who had made decisions, referring to Ghosn, was now gone.
Nissan held an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting in April to oust Ghosn. Last week, Mitsubishi Motors Corp., a smaller Japanese automaker in which Nissan owns a 34 percent stake, won shareholders’ approval to oust Ghosn.