So much history binds America and Japan together and recent decades have seen the two grow even closer than ever. Japan has been very vocal that it is to their interest that status quo between these two powerful nations be maintained.
Naturally, Japan kept a close watch on the recent U.S. presidential election, reportedly expecting with the rest of the world a logical Hillary Clinton victory. But the results proved to be anything but “ logical” for safe thinkers as it brought in astonishing and amazing outcome in the upset victory of Trump. Now, Japan is scrambling to seek assurances that even with Trump at the helm, nothing will change the warm friendship and even more importantly, strategic alliance, between Japan and the U.S.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will probably see more than a glimpse of what holds for the relations of his country and the U.S. when he meets with President-elect Donald Trump at the Trump Tower in New York today. Abe will be the first foreign leader that Trump will meet after the election. The meeting which Japan initiated is also testament to the urgency by which it views the future of its strong alliance with America.
Japan is anxious to know about Trump’s current views and plans vis-à-vis Japan in light of his strong campaign pronouncements that were not exactly favorable to Japan. During the campaign, Trump was vocal in questioning what he thinks are unfair terms in the security and defense arrangements between the two countries.
Trump was quoted in his rallies as saying: “If somebody attacks Japan, we have to immediately go and start World War III, okay? If we get attacked, Japan doesn't have to help us. Somehow, that doesn't sound so fair."
Trump then also questioned that the costs of maintaining bases and military forces in Japan and other allied nations seemed to be set in similarly unequal terms, with U.S. carrying more, if not most, of the financial burden in keeping the close alliances. Trump more than hinted his apprehension if this set-up should be continued if he gets to be the next U.S. president.
Abe seems to be poised for a charm offensive with Trump saying before leaving Japan how it is such an honor for him to have the opportunity to meet Trump ahead of all other foreign leaders, and before the Republican can even take his oath of office. Abe also expressed his enthusiasm in discussing together their dreams for both Japan and the U.S. The Japanese leader also went out of his way to underscore that the U.S.- Japan alliance is the “ fulcrum of Japan’s diplomacy and security.”
Japan looks at its alliance with the U.S. as extremely crucial in maintaining the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in the face of escalating nuclear threat from North Korea, and an ever-increasingly aggressive China.
The two leaders are also expected to discuss trade deals between their countries, two of the world’s largest economies. During the campaign, Trump blasted the Obama signature policy Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and expressed his strong disagreement with it. The TPP is part of Obama’s pivot to Asia while it also serves as a pillar for the economic reform policies of Japan.
Japan is hoping that Trump will soften or totally change track with his stance on the TPP.
Close aids of Trump meanwhile indicate that the fact that Trump is meeting with Abe at a time when he and his team are busy putting together his cabinet is testament to how he also views with importance the relations of the U.S. with its Asian closest ally.