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Trade Ideas to Better the World, Not Just Your Country

This piece was contribued by Shion Seino who graduated from International Christian University, a liberal arts university in Tokyo aimed to cultivate 'responsible global citizens', and currently works at the Japan Institute for Global Health.


Back in November 2016, in the wake of Donald Trump's win, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzō Abe was one of the first world leaders that rushed over to the Trump Tower to congratulate the then-President-elect on his victory. Now, the two will have their first summit this Friday, and they plan to talk trade, security and economy.

Trump has criticized Japan and its trading practices in the past, and has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact, expressing his interest in forming a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) instead. Despite this, Abe seeks to strengthen US-Japan relations by reaching out to the newly appointed leader and his "America first" agenda. However, as two of the most influential and powerful nations responsible to lead others in global development, there seem to be more urgent matters and collaborative opportunities to be discussed and explored for the world, other than the topic of their trade.

In his 2015 Lancet publication, Abe stated that, in this globalized society, "leaders must strive to unite rather than divide, and enhance human security and peace through the pursuit of health and wellbeing for all". With the build-up towards the G7 Ise-Shima summit, Government interest in global issues and foreign aid have risen in Japan in recent years, leading to increases in its ODA and efforts to aid countries such as Pakistan in their final stage of battle to eradicate polio. President Obama and his long commitment to global health has no doubt been a catalyst behind this.

For decades, the US has been a leading nation in global health aid, having offered much funding, knowledge and human resources in improving living standards and reducing the burden of infectious diseases worldwide. Although Trump has yet to speak up about his interests in global health or aid, the US still has much to offer within the field, and the majority of our world is still greatly in need of its support. Polio has been eradicated to 0.01% of what it was 30 years ago, malaria deaths have dropped by 60% in the past 15 years, and child mortality rates have decreased to half of what they were in 1990, yet we are still far from making the world a safer and better place for all that live in it.

Both the US and Japan have previously made impacting commitments to solve global issues. Individually, their contributions have aided many sustainable practices in the development of low and middle income countries thus far. Increased collaboration between these two nations would not only accelerate such development, but would also lead to the introduction of further innovative initiatives to solve our world's greatest challenges.

During the next few days, whether it’s in the White House or on a golf course, we hope that Trump and Abe will be sharing their ideas on issues besides those that solely benefit their own country, to help heal the world.