Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives in Tokyo ahead of G7 summit in Japan

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has landed in Tokyo where he will hold a bilateral visit with Japanese leaders before attending the Group of Seven summit later this week.

Trudeau will meet Tuesday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the emperor and empress of Japan as well as automotive sector officials.

Duane Bratt, Chair of the Department of Policy Studies at Mount Royal University, says there is a very simple reason behind the trip.

“It’s one of the largest economies in the world. Despite a recession that continues to linger, it’s the third largest economy in the world,” he said.

Bratt says it won’t be easy for Trudeau to change the current trade agreements with Japan.

“It’s been trouble getting access to the Japanese market. It remains a very protectionist economy,” Bratt said. “There has been some foreign investment by Japan, particularly in the auto sector in Canada, but trade investment ties remain slight, despite the importance of the Japanese economy.”

He adds, if Trudeau is successful, he’d be the first of many to make any kind of dent in the relationship.

“Canadian governments, going back to Pierre Trudeau, have always tried to establish greater economic ties with Japan, but they’ve largely been unsuccessful in doing so.”

The visit comes ahead of the G7 summit on Thursday and Friday in the Japanese city of Ise-Shima.

This is Trudeau’s first overseas bilateral visit to Asia since taking office.

He plans to discuss trade, investment, security, education and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“Trade would be the number one topic. One of the reasons that Canada joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks was because of Japan’s inclusion,” Bratt said.

Trudeau has three big auto industry meetings, with Subaru, Honda, and Toyota. He’s hoping to spur investments in Canada’s auto sector, and maintain the investments those companies already have in Canada.

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