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US, Japan kick off trade talks amid China deal optimism



As optimism grows that the United States and China are nearing a trade deal, Japan kicks off its own negotiations with Washington from Monday, hoping to resolve some of the issues “very quickly.”

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japan’s Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi are set to embark on two days of talks in Washington.

In Tokyo last week, Motegi predicted the crunch talks would be “candid”, with the first round on Monday about “making a decision on which areas we will discuss, chiefly in the field of goods”.

“I will do my best to have thorough discussions so as to produce a good result in line with our national interest,” said Motegi.

Self-styled dealmaker Donald Trump has been playing hardball with traditional US trading partners, using tariffs and threats in an effort to boost US exports and curb Washington’s longstanding trade deficit.

In May, Trump ordered his administration to investigate the possibility of imposing tariffs of up to 25 percent on foreign autos and auto parts, a prospect that alarmed the industry and could have serious repercussions for Japan and Europe.


The US president has frequently complained that Japan has an unfair advantage in bilateral trade and vowed to fix that.

– ‘Very quick agreement’ –

US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Thursday he was seeking a “very quick agreement” with Japan on tariff cuts for agricultural goods.

“I hope we can come to a very quick agreement with Japan over maybe some temporary … provisions and hash out the many other issues that take longer in this area,” Perdue told reporters in Washington, Kyodo News and the business daily Nikkei reported.


However, the US side is likely to run into opposition from Japan on this issue, Jiji Press reported, citing unnamed government sources.

“There’s no way for us to conclude an agricultural deal first,” a senior Japanese official told Jiji.

If Japan does so, it may violate World Trade Organization rules related to free-trade agreements, the officials noted, according to the report.

Tokyo is expected to counter with demands that the United States scrap tariffs on Japanese industrial goods, if Washington urges an early opening of Japanese agricultural markets.


Tokyo aims to focus only on tariff matters, describing the talks as “TAG” or trade agreement on goods.

However, Washington trade officials have spelled out 22 specific negotiation areas also including non-tariff barriers in Japan’s auto market and currency.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Saturday any agreement will include a requirement to refrain from manipulating currencies to gain an advantage in international trade.

Golf buddies Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will have plenty of opportunities to talk trade in the coming months.


Abe is visiting the United States later this month and Trump is expected in Japan in May to pay his respects to the country’s new emperor who will take the throne on May 1.

Trump is then expected back in Japan the month after as the western city of Osaka hosts the G20 summit of world leaders on June 28-29.

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2020 Election

New 2020 poll shows Trump trailing all Democrats — some by double-digits



President Donald Trump trails all of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical matchups of the 2020 presidential race, according to the result of a new poll released Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on Salon.

The survey, conducted by Emerson Polling, found that the president lags behind former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., by 10 points nationally — 45 percent to 55 percent. He also trails Sen. Elizabeth Warren by six points — 47 percent to 53 percent —and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg by four points — 48 percent to 52 percent.

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Beto O’Rourke’s ‘war tax’ policy proposal is straight out of ‘Starship Troopers’



Amid an overcrowded Democratic presidential candidate field, it's hard to distinguish yourself from the pack if you don't slot easily into the scale that runs from "pro-corporate centrist" to "left-populist." If you're former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke —  who falls somewhere in the middle, politically, and somewhere towards the top, looks-wise — you pull a militaristic policy proposal out of your hat that recalls some of the most campy pseudo-fascist sci-fi ever written.

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Lawrence O’Donnell aired hard-hitting expose on Trump, Jr — and the president tweets ‘presidential harassment’



MSNBC anchor Lawrence O'Donnell on Tuesday broadcast a hard-hitting segment on Donald Trump, Jr. for defending his father against claims of rape -- despite the fact his own mom made similar allegations.

The host attempted to understand why Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Trump, Jr. are so obidient to Trump when they both used to despise him.

O'Donnell noted a tweet by Trump, Jr. on the latest allegations against his father.


Moments after the segment ended, the president tweeted.


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Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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