U.S. President Donald Trump, right, shakes hands with Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

Japan Denies Report Trump Brought Up Pearl Harbor in Trade Talks

(Bloomberg) -- Japan’s chief government spokesman denied a Washington Post report that U.S. President Donald Trump brought up Pearl Harbor while discussing trade disputes with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“While I refrain from commenting on each and every media report, in any case this isn’t true,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news briefing Wednesday in response to a question about the reported exchange between the leaders at the White House in June. Suga declined to comment on another claim in the same report that Japan had concealed from the U.S. a secret July meeting with North Korean officials in Vietnam.

The Washington Post cited the meeting as an example of Japan breaking with the U.S. as disputes over North Korea and trade expose strains between the allies. Despite Abe’s efforts to forge a close personal relationship with Trump, Japan has failed to secure exemptions from U.S. steel-and-aluminum tariffs and faces pressure to enter bilateral trade talks.

Although Trump said after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in June that the country was “no longer a nuclear threat,” a Japanese defense white paper released Tuesday said the country still posed a “grave and imminent” danger. Asked about U.S. efforts to form a bilateral trade deal, Suga said in late July that Japan was “not going to do anything with any country that harms the national interest.”

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