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Trump Says Japan’s Economy Isn’t ‘As Good As Ours’ and Wants to ‘Keep It That Way’

November 6, 2017, 10:54 AM UTC

Less than 24 hours into his Asia trip, President Donald Trump delivered a light jab to U.S. ally Japan.

In a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump praised the country’s “thriving” people, “vibrant” cities, and “powerful” economy, but reminded the prime minister that America is first. In reference to the Japanese economy he said, “I don’t know if it’s as good as ours, I think not. Ok? And we’re going to try and keep it that way, but you’ll be second.” He also criticized Japanese trade practices, saying they are unfair to the United States.

The trip to Japan has otherwise gone according to plan. Apart from a slight breach of protocol in which Trump failed to bow, the Financial Times reports that Trump’s audience with Emperor Akihito “passed off without incident.” And despite the economic sparring, Abe and Trump agreed to put “maximum pressure” on North Korea, one of the top items on the trip’s agenda.

After visiting Japan, Trump will head to South Korea on Tuesday, where North Korean policy may produce strife, as President Moon Jae-in advocates for a more cautious approach.