China, the European Union, Canada and Mexico — US President Donald Trump is waging his trade war on many fronts, with the likelihood of Japan becoming the next battleground rising, according to US business daily The Wall Street Journal (WSJ).
In a column written by WSJ Assistant Editor James Freeman on Thursday, the author said that Trump saw a “problem” with Japan’s $68.8 billion (€59.1 billion) trade surplus in 2017, which is not expected to come down significantly this year.
Freeman wrote he had a conversation with the president in which Trump had thanked him for his positive comments on the US economy, and was generally praising America’s “good relations” with the Asian country.
“Of course that will end as soon as I tell them how much they have to pay,” Freeman then cited Trump as saying.
Upon the news, the Japanese currency immediately firmed in late New York trading on speculation that Trump may soon target the world’s third-largest economy in its drive to lower the American trade deficits with key partners.
Trump’s remarks come as a bit of a surprise because he was previously seen as maintaining a cordial personal relationship with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, fostered during numerous meetings and rounds of golf.