Apple’s Cook Continues Japan Expedition With Shinzo Abe Meeting

Amid sluggish iPhone sales around the world, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is lavishing more attention on Japan, a country where his products still reign supreme.

A day after visiting Nintendo Co. headquarters in Kyoto, Cook met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Friday. The two discussed Apple’s development center in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, which is scheduled to open in December, according to Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

“The drift of the conversation was about collaborating with Japanese firms on their new service,” Suga, who attended the meeting, told reporters afterward. Abe responded that Apple should “cultivate even deeper ties with Japanese firms as we begin development at the new facility,” he added.

It was Cook’s first trip to Japan since taking the helm at the world’s biggest company by market value five years ago, according to a Facebook post from Japan’s Cabinet. During that period, he’s made several visits to Greater China -- its biggest foreign market.

Apple’s devices accounted for 42 percent of Japan’s mobile market in 2015, the company’s fourth year as the country’s leading supplier, according to MM Research Institute Ltd. Within smartphones, its grip was even tighter at 53 percent. Apple also held the largest share of tablets in the country last year, accounting for 40 percent of the market, according to the researcher.

In recent years, Apple has lost ground in China to local competitors, raising the priority of maintaining its lead in Japan. Apple reported its first quarterly revenue contraction in more than a decade earlier this year.

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