President Donald Trump’s Friday press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — which touched on terrorism, trade and immigration — occurred 30 years after Trump detailed his experiences doing business with the Japanese.
In short, he hated it.
This is an excerpt about his relationship with Japan from pages 185-186 of his 1987 book:
I have great respect for what the Japanese have done with their economy, but for my money they are often very difficult to do business with. For starters, they come in to see you in groups of six or eight or even twelve, and so you’ve got to convince all of them to make any given deal. You may succeed with one or two or three, but it’s far harder to convince all twelve. In addition, they rarely smile and they are so serious that they don’t make doing business fun. Fortunately, they have a lot of money to spend, and they seem to like real estate. What’s unfortunate is that for decades now they have become wealthier in large measure by screwing the United States with a self-serving trade policy that our political leaders have never been able to fully understand or counteract.
Despite saying the Japanese were “screwing” America, it appears Trump and Abe got along fine at the press conference after an initial awkward handshake.
A reporter asked Abe what his thoughts were about Trump killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Abe was a big supporter of. The prime minister ignored the question entirely, instead choosing to talk about terrorism and immigration.
Trump signed an executive order Jan. 23 ending former President Barack Obama’s 12-nation trade agreement, which he previously described as, “another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country.”
The pair spoke on the phone after Trump withdrew from TPP, and Japan has said it’s open to pursuing bilateral trade agreements with the U.S.
Japan took a cue from Trump’s Twitter habits and sent Abe with “tweetable” statistics to present him. Trump has said before he prefers things in bullet points. He told Axios Jan. 18, “I like bullets or I like as little as possible. I don’t need, you know, 200-page reports on something that can be handled on a page. That I can tell you.”
The pair will fly down to Mar-a-Lago later in the day at Trump’s personal expense.
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