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On the economic front, the Japanese prime minister is planning to impress upon the US president the significance of multilateral free trade as Trump has pushed for bilateral trade agreements.

Trade issues will likely be at the forefront of a summit between Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Trump later this week.

Trump's agreement to hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a session expected in late May or early June at a place yet to be determined, has also raised some concerns among Japanese officials.

China and Japan took another step toward mending their troubled relations Monday, resuming high-level economic talks for the first time in almost eight years.

Last year, residents of Hokkaido were twice warned to seek shelter after North Korea test-fired two missiles that flew over the northern Japanese island, albeit at very high altitudes.

"We will affirm cooperation between Japan and the United States and demonstrate the strong bond of the Japan-U.S. alliance" through the summit, Abe told reporters at his office before heading to Tokyo's Haneda airport.

The chances of success may be slim, but Mr. Trump can solve several problems by following his ally's lead.

Abe told Japan's parliament last week he would ask Trump to seek elimination of all North Korean missiles that could reach Japan.

"Having been surprised by Trump's decision to meet with Kim, Abe is determined to convince the USA president to take a skeptical approach to Pyongyang", said Tobias Harris, vice-president of Teneo Intelligence, a Washington-based advisory firm. The two ministers agreed on the importance of arranging respective visits by Abe to China and Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan.

There is alarm in Tokyo that the cold war abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korean spies could be forgotten in the push for a nuclear settlement. Pyongyang has acknowledged abducting 13 Japanese - five of whom have since returned to Japan - but claims the remaining eight died while living in North Korea.

Abe also faces challenges on trade.

During his sixth face-to-face talks with Trump, Abe is also expected to seek to win an exemption from steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports Washington recently invoked.

Trump has forged close ties with Abe during his 15 months in power and the two have bonded over rounds of golf both during Abe's last visit to Florida more than a year ago and Trump's visit to Tokyo last November.


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