Japan`s Economy Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said he had a frank exchange about trade on Thursday with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, while appearing to stick with Tokyo`s position of avoiding a bilateral free-trade agreement.
"We had a frank exchange of views and deepened mutual understanding," Motegi told reporters after several hours of meetings, which he said would continue on Friday.
But he reiterated Japan`s view that multilateral talks, which Washington has abandoned, are the best way to address trade issues. Tokyo wants to avoid a bilateral free-trade agreement - which Lighthizer called for in the past - where it could come under pressure over access to its auto and agricultural markets.
President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, calling it a bad deal and saying he preferred bilateral talks.
"I will say what I can after the first round of talks end," Motegi told reporters.
He also said Japan and the United States shared an understanding that both nations wanted to achieve early results.
The USTR`s office had no immediate comment on the talks.
Trump`s threats to impose higher tariffs on auto imports, including those from Japan, raised concerns such a step would harm both economies.