Abe's Trump invite to Florida shows significance of bilateral ties: Spicer

Japan is charting its own course to deal with a radically different USA president, an approach that will be tested at the end of this week when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets Donald Trump in the White House and on the golf course in Florida.

Abe presented Trump with a golf driver, reportedly worth around $4,500, and met daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, both seen as having the president's ear.

Abe's proposed public-private initiative is meant to create several hundred thousand jobs, the reports said Thursday, and involve $150 billion in new investment in US infrastructure from Japanese government and private sources over the next decade.

Japan's PM Abe is scheduled to visit with President Trump at the White House.

Japan's government is pushing companies and investors to hand over details of their United States investment plans so Shinzo Abe can deliver a "tweetable" figure to Donald Trump when they meet this week.

"If we get along with Russian Federation and other countries - I mean, I want to get along with all countries - but if we got along with Russian Federation, if we got along with China, if we got along with Japan ... that's a good thing, not a bad thing". The game has special significance - Abe's grandfather, who was also a prime minister, played golf with President Dwight Eisenhower in 1957.

Japanese companies are complaining that Abe is asking for a plan to invest in the U.S. that exceeds companies' ability to appease Trump, the FT said.

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Social Democratic Party Secretary-General Seiji Mataichi told a news conference on February 7 that the prime minister's attempts to build a good relationship with President Trump was "embarrassing" compared to European leaders who have voiced stern criticism of Trump's immigration policies.

Japan posted a trade surplus of 6.8 trillion yen with the United States last year, down 4.6 percent from 2015, but US -bound auto shipments rose for a second straight year, ministry of finance data showed month.

The Financial Times reports that executives at three top Japanese companies said government's officials had been in touch asking for investment numbers.

Separately, Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), the world's largest with $1.2 trillion in assets, is preparing to invest $150 billion in the United States. Japan is prepared to respond in kind, insisting the USA open up its market for public contracts and abolish import tariffs on automobiles, which would stoke the ire of American automakers.

Some experts cautioned that too subservient a response by Abe, such as a government-inspired jobs creation package, risks confirming Trump's view that old-style Japan bashing works.

After abandoning the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal between 12 Pacific Rim countries including the US and Japan, it's possible Trump will attempt to establish a two-way trade deal with Japan.

Japan's has responded firmly but politely, taking issue with Trump's assertions when it disagrees, but avoiding comment on issues such as the travel ban. The president said: "I don't know". "And we're not sure whether Mr. Abe is prepared for that".

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