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U.S.-Japan talks should avoid fiscal, monetary policy meddle: Amari

By Kaori Kaneko and Ami Miyazaki
Japan's Economics Minister Akira Amari speaks during a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

By Kaori Kaneko and Ami Miyazaki

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan and the United States should avoid trying to interfere with each other's fiscal and monetary policies when they start bilateral economic talks next month, former Japanese economy minister Akira Amari said on Monday.

Amari, who led Japan's negotiation team on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was essentially scuttled when President Donald Trump pulled the United States out, said the two nations needed to conduct talks with an eye towards emerging markets and the world as a whole.

Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed last month to launch a bilateral economic dialogue to discuss trade and infrastructure investment. Japan, concerned about Trump's strident comments about trade and currencies, hopes to use the talks to seek ways to avoid trade friction and ensure Washington is engaged in the Asia-Pacific region.

Asked about the possibility that the U.S. may make demands regarding Japan's fiscal and monetary policy, Amari told Reuters in an interview: "One nation should not meddle with another nation in areas where sovereign and independent rights exist."

Taro Aso, finance minister and deputy prime minister, and Vice President Mike Pence, who is expected to visit Japan next month, will lead the bilateral talks.

Amari will visit the U.S. with other Japanese lawmakers this week to meet U.S. lawmakers to exchange views on including the economy and trade.

"The economic dialogue should be a place to build a basis for how Japan and the U.S. can share common view and cooperate with each other strategically, with a view toward the Asia-Pacific region and the world but beyond the two nations," Amari said.

Trump has complained about the U.S. trade deficit with Japan and accused Tokyo of using its "money supply" to weaken the yen and give exporters an unfair advantage - seen as a criticism of the Bank of Japan's radical policy of flooding the financial system with yen to end decades of deflation.

Still, Trump avoided harsh rhetoric during a friendly summit with Abe last month that included a round of golf.

Amari said Japan's monetary policy is aimed at beating deflation because the nation needs to revive the economy and restore fiscal health.

He said Japan and the United States were unlikely to have a detailed discussion on issues like trade deficit at the outset of the dialogue. "Currency manipulation and monetary policy need to be separated," he said.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko and Ami Miyazaki, additional reporting by Takashi Umekawa, Editing by William Mallard & Simon Cameron-Moore)