At the direction of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Japanese government is preparing “tweetable” financial data for Abe’s upcoming meeting with President Donald Trump.
“Executives at three top Japanese companies said officials had been in touch asking for investment numbers. Public investment institutions say the prime minister is also leaning on them to pledge tens of billions of dollars to US infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail,” reports the Financial Times.
Abe is scheduled to arrive in the United States for his meeting with Trump on Friday, with his foreign, finance, and trade ministers in tow. On Saturday, he’ll join Trump for a round of golf at the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
“You get to know somebody better on a golf course than you will over lunch,” Trump explained in a radio interview on Sunday. He did not confirm or deny whether there would be any money riding on the game.
There will definitely be a lot of money riding on Abe’s visit. The Financial Times has Sadayuki Sakakibara, chairman of the Nippon Keidanren business federation — saluted as the “all-powerful voice of corporate Japan” by the Japan Times and its chairman regarded as “the prime minister of the business world” — scrambling to assemble data that will help Trump see Japan in a positive light.
“The most important thing is to reconfirm the importance of the US-Japan relationship in politics, economics, and security,” Sakakibara said. To that end, he wants Abe to remind Trump that “we’re contributing to the expansion of U.S. exports,” along with $400 billion of direct investment and 1.7 million jobs supported by Japanese companies in America.
The Financial Times also notes that Toyota has already pledged another $10 billion in U.S. investment over the next five years, with up to 400 jobs added at its Indiana manufacturing plant. Japan’s SoftBank tech conglomerate has also pledged $50 billion in American investment over the next four years.
Abe will add to this by discussing Japanese investment for Trump’s proposed infrastructure plan, possibly including a sales pitch for Japanese high-speed rail technology. In 2015, Abe proposed $5 billion in Japanese investment for a maglev train that would have offered travel from D.C. to Baltimore in 15 minutes, with a long-term vision of similar lines connecting New York to Washington, Dallas to Houston, and Los Angeles to San Francisco.