Japan PM to meet U.S. Trump around Jan. 27 - report

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a news conference at his official residence in Tokyo December 24, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is arranging to meet Donald Trump about a week after he takes over as U.S. president on Jan. 20, Jiji news service reported on Tuesday.

Abe met Trump in New York last month, soon after his election victory, and Jiji said Abe would meet him around Jan. 27. Trump’s inauguration is due on Jan. 20.

A spokesman for the Japanese prime minister’s office said he was not aware of the meeting and declined further comment. The foreign ministry later issued a statement denying such arrangements were being made.

Abe was the first foreign leader Trump met after his election win and he could potentially be the first foreign leader Trump meets after officially becoming president, suggesting strong ties with Japan are important to Trump.

The U.S.-Japan military alliance is the cornerstone of Japan’s defence and foreign policy, but Trump’s comments during his campaign caused many people to doubt his commitment to it.

Some also worry that Japan’s export-dependent economy could be hurt if Trump adopts protectionist policies that curb global trade.

Trump has vowed to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would be a blow to Japan, as it is looking to the free-trade deal to expand exports and encourage structural reforms to make its agriculture sector more competitive.

It is rare for a new president to meet a foreign leader at the White House so soon after taking over, so some could view the meeting as an attempt to address Japan’s concerns.

Abe described Donald Trump as a “trustworthy leader” after a hastily arranged 90-minute meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan last month, but few details of the discussion have emerged.

Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez