(Bloomberg) -- Former US President Donald Trump met former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso on Tuesday night in New York after warning of damage to US industry from the dollar hovering around a 34-year high versus the yen.

Trump said it was a “great honor” via a Truth Social post to meet Aso. In another post, the former president criticized the high US dollar-yen exchange rate, saying it was “a total disaster for the United States” as manufacturers and companies would lose business and be forced to build plants overseas.  

Trump’s campaign office said in a statement the two discussed “the enduring importance of the US-Japan alliance to both countries’ physical and economic security and to stability in the Indo-Pacific.” They also talked about challenges posed by China and North Korea. 

The former president has held several meetings and conversations in recent weeks with prominent foreign officials from places such as Eastern Europe and the Middle East in what might be seen as moves by some US partners to hedge their bets on the upcoming presidential race. This month, Trump met Polish President Andrzej Duda. 

The visit by Aso, the deputy head of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is one of the most public signs yet that Tokyo is positioning for a possible Trump return to the White House, as the ex-president prepares for an electoral rematch against incumbent Joe Biden. 

The meeting took place after a hearing in Trump’s trial in New York on charges of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to stifle her claims of a sexual liaison. 

The meeting also occurred about two weeks after Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida returned from his first official visit to the US as leader. In his summit with Biden, a speech to Congress and a visit to Japanese companies in North Carolina, Kishida touted the strength of bilateral ties between the two nations across a wide range of areas from national security to business investments. 

Aso made the trip in his capacity as an individual lawmaker and the Japanese government wasn’t involved, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said in a news briefing. Asked whether the meeting could hurt relations with Biden, Hayashi said he isn’t in a position to comment on the US response.

Read more: Kishida Says ‘World Needs US,’ Warning Congress of Global Risks

Aso served as Japan’s deputy prime minister and finance minister throughout the period of Trump’s presidency. Then-premier Shinzo Abe was the first foreign leader to meet Trump after his 2016 election win. That meeting took place in New York before Trump was officially sworn into office, an indication of Abe’s determination to make a favorable impression. 

“He is a highly respected man in Japan and beyond, and somebody that I’ve liked and I’ve known through our very dear friend Shinzo, who was a great man by the way,” Trump said to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower before meeting Aso. “We got to know each other, we like each other. And we’ll be talking about Japan and the United States right now and lots of other things also.”

Trump has advocated for a weaker dollar to boost US exports. During an early stage of Trump’s presidency, Abe pushed back against Trump’s assertion that Japan was keeping its currency devalued.

On Nov. 8, 2016, when Trump won the presidential election, the dollar was at around 105 yen. Since then, it’s risen roughly 47% versus the yen, causing Japanese officials to ramp up warnings over the currency’s weakness. Last week, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen acknowledged the concerns of Japan and South Korea over sharp declines in their currencies during a trilateral meeting of finance chiefs. 

The yen was at 154.81 per dollar in Tokyo trading hours on Wednesday morning. It’s fallen almost 9% versus the US currency this year. 

“Among the future risks, we pay attention to the US presidential election and for example, if Trump becomes president, that is likely to cause US monetary policy to return to an accommodative path,” Kenichiro Kitamura, Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Co.’s general manager of investment planning and research department, told reporters on Tuesday.

“That would mean the pace of narrowing the yield gap will accelerate more than in the Biden administration. In that case, the possibility of reaching 130 for the dollar-yen cannot be ruled out,” Kitamura said.

--With assistance from Yumi Teso and Ryotaro Nakamaru.

(Updates with more context, statement from Trump campaign.)

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