Economy on the back burner during talks with Japanese PM

Despite domestic criticism that President Obama has spent too much time focusing on issues like health care and climate change while the unemployment rate has risen to double-digits, the economy was not one of the principal topics of discussion during the President’s meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

During a press conference with Mr. Obama, the newly-elected Japanese Prime Minister laid out the various topics addressed in their meetings from earlier today: Afghanistan, climate change, nuclear disarmament, Iran and North Korea.

On the subject of the economy, Hatoyama said it was not deeply discussed, “the economy was not a major issue this time, but again, this might reflect the times in which we're living.” The Prime Minister said he hoped the two might discuss the topic over dinner.

President Obama admitted that it was not the first item on their agenda but thought the two would have ample opportunity to discuss the topic in the coming days during the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit being held in Singapore. At the media availability with reporters, Mr. Obama said, “As the world's two leading economies, we have spent a lot of time working together in the G20 to help bring the world back from the brink of financial crisis, and we're going to continue to work to strengthen our efforts so that we can expand job growth in the future.” U.S. exports to Japan reached 66.6 billion in 2008.

Before embarking upon his trip to Asia, the President attempted to preempt criticism that he was not focused on the rising unemployment rate by announcing a jobs summit to be held at the White House next month.