April 7, 2017 / 12:36 AM / 4 months ago

Japan's Aso says dialogue with Pence not limited to trade and currencies

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Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso takes questions from reporters at the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank Group in Washington October 7, 2016.James Lawler Duggan

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday that the agenda for his meeting with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence this month is not limited to trade and currencies.

Aso said the meeting, known as the U.S.-Japan economic dialogue, will also discuss energy and infrastructure.

Aso also said he does not expect the meeting to touch on Toshiba Corp (6502.T), which is struggling due to large writedowns at its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse.

Pence will visit Japan April 18-19 for the meeting.

"From the beginning Japan has been talking about economic policy, energy, infrastructure investment, and the rules of trade," Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

"This is not something that is limited to trade and currencies."

The dialogue will be a major test of U.S. President Donald Trump's confrontational approach to trade. Senior administration officials have signaled they would press Japan to remove non-tariff trade barriers and buy more U.S. products.

Trump's administration is also focusing more on "currency misalignment," which could leave Japan vulnerable to complaints about the value of the yen and how that affects its exports.

A weaker yen tends to boost Japan's exports to the United States, which could form the basis of complaints from U.S. officials and companies.

Japan, which proposed the dialogue, had hoped to keep contentious issues like autos and agriculture trade out of the talks by proposing an agenda focused on infrastructure investment and energy.

When asked on Friday, Aso said he was still unsure if other cabinet officials would accompany Pence.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is expected to join, a Japanese government source told Reuters last month. This suggests that the U.S. delegation will try to make trade a major component of the dialogue.

Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Chris Gallagher

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