Abe may resign in June, says ex-Japan PM

On the economic front, the Japanese prime minister is planning to impress upon the US president the significance of multilateral free trade as Trump has pushed for bilateral trade agreements.

During the talks, Abe will want to make sure Trump doesn't cut a deal with North Korea that leaves Japan exposed to shorter-range missiles that do not necessarily threaten the U.S. He also is expected to ask the U.S. leader to raise with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Prime Minister's popularity hit a record low of 26.7 per cent in a survey conducted by Nippon TV, while according to Asahi's survey it fell by 31 per cent, the lowest in more than five years of Abe's term, much lower than April 2013, when his rating peaked at 65.7 per cent.

Last year, residents of Hokkaido were twice warned to seek shelter after North Korea test-fired two missiles that flew over the northern Japanese island, albeit at very high altitudes.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also spoke about the Japan-US summit.

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with figures from Japanese economic circles here Tuesday, including Sadayuki Sakakibara, current chairman of Keidanran or Japan Business Federation, and Hiroaki Nakanishi, who has been elected Keidanran's next leader.

This week, during their sixth face-to-face meeting, Abe will seek to use that leverage to secure reassurances from Trump that Japan's interests won't be overlooked during his meeting with Kim in late May or early June. The two ministers agreed on the importance of arranging respective visits by Abe to China and Chinese President Xi Jinping to Japan. The prime minister has denied he's done anything wrong.

There is alarm in Tokyo that the cold war abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korean spies could be forgotten in the push for a nuclear settlement.

Another potential risk for Abe is that in Trump will agree to broach Japan's concerns with Kim, but only in return for concessions on trade.

Japan's also interested in pushing back on trade with the USA, particularly the Trump administration's harsh, new steel tariffs.

  • Rogelio Becker