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President Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie Abe to the White House, April 26. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump says he thinks he could strike a bilateral trade deal with Japan by the time he visits Tokyo in May. (Trump made this prediction during a Friday meeting at the White House with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.)

Reality check: Multiple sources close to the U.S.-Japanese trade talks tell me this is ridiculous spin. Trump's big demand — that the Japanese drop their massive tariffs on U.S. agricultural products — isn't going to happen anytime soon. They say the two sides haven't even agreed on the scope of these trade talks, let alone crafted serious plans for the timing of a possible deal.

  • "Japan is hoping the USMCA and China will continue to preoccupy USTR [the U.S. trade representative] and the White House," said a source close to the Japanese negotiating team. (Translation: They have little interest in a bilateral deal; rather, Abe is indulging Trump and playing for time.)

Between the lines: Abe has no political wiggle room to give Trump what he wants on agriculture without getting significant U.S. concessions in return. Japan's farming lobby is far more powerful than America's — it’s virtually untouchable.

  • Abe already stretched himself to make agricultural concessions for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal, and those benefits have been reallocated to the other TPP countries. He doesn’t have much political capital left.
  • Abe would need to appeal to Japan's legislature to get more farming concessions. Japanese elections are in July, and there's no way he will do anything before then. Even after then, the politics are still very tough.

Go deeper

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris sat down with CNN on Thursday for their first joint interview since the election.

The big picture: In the hour-long segment, the twosome laid out plans for responding to the pandemic, jump-starting the economy and managing the transition of power, among other priorities.

The quick FCC fix that would get more students online

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As the pandemic forces students out of school, broadband deployment programs aren't going to move fast enough to help families in immediate need of better internet access. But Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission say the incoming Biden administration could put a dent in that digital divide with one fast policy change.

State of play: An existing FCC program known as E-rate provides up to $4 billion for broadband at schools, but Republican FCC chairman Ajit Pai has resisted modifying the program during the pandemic to provide help connecting students at home.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

America's hidden depression

Biden introduces his pick for Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, on Dec. 1. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President-elect Biden faces a fragile recovery that could easily fall apart, as the economy remains in worse shape than most people think.

Why it matters: There is a recovery happening. But it's helping some people immensely and others not at all. And it's that second part that poses a massive risk to the Biden-Harris administration's chance of success.

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