Trump in Japan: Policy differences evident amid display of camaraderie
Despite the extravagant display of camaraderie aimed at showing the strength of what Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the “unshakable bond” with the United States President Donald Trump, points of differences between the two leaders were visible, particularly on two fronts – North Korea, and trade.
Trump began his much-anticipated four-day visit to Japan against the backdrop of his recent tweet that played down the threat of the recent firing of short-range missiles by North Korea. The tweet holds significance particularly because it went against the recent statements by the Japanese government and Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton that the missile test violated the UN resolutions.
In a joint press conference conducted by Trump and Abe following their bilateral talks on Monday, the US President reiterated his statement that he was not bothered about the missile test.
“My people think it could have been a violation,” Trump told reporters, as cited by The New York Times while adding that he was not “personally” concerned about the launches.
“Perhaps he wants to get attention, and perhaps not,” he said of the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un. “Who knows? All I know is there have been no nuclear tests, no long-range missiles going out. I think that someday we will have a deal.”
When the question of the missile test was put to Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister repeated the earlier statements where he had deemed them as “regrettable”, while adding that he and Trump were in complete agreement over the issue of North Korea.
In his statements, Abe was careful to not criticise Trump’s approach towards the communist country. Speaking on Trump’s attempt at friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Abe said, “He cracked open the shell of distrust,” while adding, “This was a new approach, which I welcome.”
Shortly before the press conference, the US President had met the families of citizens who were abducted by North Korea decades ago. During the meeting, Trump told the families that he would be working with Abe to bring their relatives home.
“I can also tell you for certain that it is the Prime Minister’s primary goal,” Trump said, adding that Abe has discussed the topic at every meeting they have had.
Speaking on that front in the press conference, Abe said that he was “completely on the same page” as Trump on the issue. The Japanese PM added that he plans to have a discussion with North Korean leader Kim-Jong-un in “complete candour” about the issue in the future.
It is pertinent to mention that a 2014 report by the United Nation states that hundreds of South Koreans, Japanese, and other foreign nationals were kidnapped by North Korea at the end of the Korean War in 1953.
It should be recalled here that last week Washington had issued an executive order that called imports of foreign cars and auto parts a threat to the U.S. national security. The decision implied that Washington would wait up to six months before determining whether to impose a 25 per cent tariff on imported cars and parts from the European Union and Japan.
Speaking on the same, Abe told reporters that he was pursuing a bilateral deal that would be a “win-win” for both the US and Japan.
One of the most significant takeaways from yesterday’s press conference was the decisive statement by Trump that the US was not seeking “regime change” in Iran. “We’re not looking for regime change. I want to make that clear,” Trump had said. “We’re looking for no nuclear weapons.”
After Iran lashing out at Washington’s decision to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and deploy 1,500 additional troops in the Middle East, Abe offered his help as a mediator between the two nations.
Speaking on the same, Trump said that he was open to accepting the help offered by Abe. “I know for a fact the prime minister is very close with the leadership of Iran, and we’ll see what happens,” Trump said. “Nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me.”
The US President concluded his four-day trip today. One of the highlights of his visit was when he met the country’s new emperor, Naruhito, hours before the press conference. Accompanied by his wife Melania Trump, the US President arrived at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Monday morning, where they were greeted by Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.
In an elaborate welcome ceremony that ensued, Trump reviewed a cordon of Japanese troops and greeted yellow-hatted schoolchildren waving American and Japanese flags.(ANI)