While there’s little prospect that Japanese consumers will ever buy enough American cars to please Donald Trump, the Abe government’s record spending on defense is shaping up as a bright spot in bilateral trade for the U.S. president.
Japan’s purchases through the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program represent 16 percent of all non-personnel costs for the nation’s self-defense forces so far this year, more than double the level in 2014, according to calculations by Bloomberg based on government data.
Plans to buy advanced American radars, stealth fighter jets and missile-defense systems in coming years will mean billions of dollars for U.S. weapons makers. Japanese companies, already struggling to compete, don’t stand to benefit as much because economies of scale have made homegrown technology more expensive and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government wants to get more bang for its buck.
During a visit to Tokyo last November, Trump urged Abe to buy “massive amounts of military equipment” from the U.S. Even without the incentive to ease trade friction, Japan was already an enthusiastic consumer as Abe pushed defense spending to a record 5.2 trillion yen ($47 billion) this fiscal year to counter both a nuclear-armed North Korea and a more assertive China. (end of excerpt)
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