Japan defense costs swell on greater role, purchases from US

FILE - In this May 27, 2019, file photo, U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pose for a photo prior to their meeting at Akasaka Palace, Japanese state guest house, in Tokyo. Japan’s defense spending is expected to set a new record next year as the country strengthens its military alliance with the U.S. and buys expensive American weapons amid threats from China and North Korea. Under pressure from Trump, Japan has been buying costly military equipment as a way of reducing the U.S. trade deficit while bolstering defense cooperation.

LINCOLN - Nebraska officials cheered the news that the U.S. and Japan have reached a deal in principle on trade.

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the deal Sunday at the G-7 summit in France. It would cut Japanese tariffs on most agricultural products while delaying any additional U.S. tariffs on Japanese automobile imports.

The deal, assuming it is finalized, will be good news for Nebraska farmers, as Japan is the top export destination for many of the state’s agricultural products.

Japan is Nebraska’s fourth-largest export market overall, but it is No. 1 for beef and pork and No. 2 for corn.

“While we’re anxious to learn more of the specifics of the pending bilateral U.S.-Japan deal, any agreement that opens the door for greater market access and puts our farmers and ranchers on a more competitive playing field with producers around the globe is major step forward,” Steve Nelson, president of the Nebraska Farm Bureau, said in a statement.

Nelson said U.S. farmers have been “on the outside looking in” since the U.S. chose not to be a part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, and any deal that offers more access to Japanese markets is “great news for Nebraska farmers and ranchers,” Nelson said.

Gov. Pete Ricketts said in a news release that Nebraska’s trade relationship with Japan is one of its most important.

“Getting this trade deal done and lowering tariffs for our beef and pork is vital for Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers as well as our Japanese customers,” he said.

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