President Trump’s trip to Japan revolves around North Korea, free trade, and American prosperity.
On Nov 5, 10:48 am local time, President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived at Yokota Air Base in Tokyo, Japan. POTUS and FLOTUS greeted the crowd, which included United States Ambassador to Japan William F. Hagerty, Foreign Minister of Japan H.E. Taro Kono, and Japanese Ambassador to the United States H.E. Kenichiro Sasae, among others.
At Yokota Air Base, 11:08 am local time, POTUS delivered a speech to servicemembers at Yokota Air Base, where he described Japan as “a treasured partner and crucial ally of the United States,” and emphasized the importance of America’s allies in defending the nation. “No one — no dictator, no regime, and no nation — should underestimate, ever, American resolve.”
“History has proven over and over that the road of the tyrant is a steady march toward poverty, suffering, and servitude,” continued Trump. “But the path of strong nations and free people, certain of their values and confident in their futures, is a proven path toward prosperity and peace. We cherish our cultures, we embrace our values, and we always fight for what we believe in,” he concluded.
The First Couple departed on Marine One from the military air base at 11:43 am local time to meet Japanese Prime Minister Abe at Kasumigaseki Country Club. Around noon, POTUS and FLOTUS arrived on the driving range of the private club, where they met Prime Minister Abe and posed for the press. Inside, the two leaders signed golf caps embroidered with the words “Donald and Shinzo Make Alliance Even Greater.”
The two leaders then had lunch and played a round of golf with Hideki Matsuyama, internationally acclaimed professional golfer, before President Trump boarded Marine One once more at 2:52 pm local to proceed to the Roppongi District of Tokyo.
Trump’s main objectives during the Asia-Pacific Tour are threefold, a senior administration official stated at a background press briefing held in Tokyo, Japan: “to strengthen international resolve to denuclearize North Korea, promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region, and advance American prosperity.”
The Denuclearization of North Korea
In Japan, Trump’s management of the North Korean threat depends on diplomatically confirming US-Japanese relations to collectively maximize pressure on North Korea and advancing military equipment in Japan to prepare for nuclear threats.
Trump pledged to protect the people of Japan in his speech to American and Japanese troops at Yokota Air Base and at his press conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Much of this protection, in Trump’s point of view, depends on Japan purchasing military and defensive equipment from the US to ensure the readiness and effectiveness of the Japanese Self Defense Forces.
“One of the things I think is very important is the Prime Minister is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should,” Trump said. “It’s a lot of jobs for us and a lot of safety for Japan.”
A Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region
Japan is one of the three countries on Trump’s Asia-Pacific tour (along with South Korea and Vietnam) that is a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a 12 nation free trade agreement negotiated under former President Obama. On his third official day in office Trump formally withdrew the US from the partnership. Japanese officials have previously stated their eagerness to negotiate a bilateral trade deal with the US and earlier this year, Japan and the US established the U.S.-Japan Economic Dialogue, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso.
During Trump’s visit, both President Trump and Prime Minister Abe affirmed their mutual commitment to promoting prosperity and development of the Indo-Pacific region by fostering a secure environment and developing high-standard rules.
The Advancement of American Prosperity
“America First” has been the overwhelming theme of Trump’s campaign and administration, and during his trip to Japan, Trump emphasized what he saw as the unfair trade relationship between the US and Japan. “For the last many decades, Japan has been winning,” Trump said. “You do know that. Right now our trade with Japan is not fair and it isn’t open.”
At a joint appearance between the two leaders in Tokyo, Japan, Trump praised the strength of Japan’s economy and then went on to say that he wanted Japan’s economy to be “second,” right behind the US. “I don’t know if it’s as good as ours. I think not. OK? We’re going to try to keep it that way. And you’ll be second.”
While Trump and Abe engaged in bilateral summit talks, First Lady Melania Trump and Akie Abe, wife of Prime Minister Abe, visited the Mikimoto pearl store whose founder is credited with creating the world’s first cultured pearl.
The first lady and her counterpart also visited an elementary school during the trip, where they joined in during a calligraphy lesson, each writing half of the word “peace” in Japanese, which they held side by side for the press.
Later that evening, POTUS and FLOTUS joined Prime Minister Abe and his wife at Ginza Ukatei for dinner at 7:33 pm local time. In front of the restaurant, POTUS addressed the press: “Our relationship is really extraordinary. We like each other and our countries like each other. And I don’t think we’ve ever been closer to Japan than we are right now. It’s a great honor, it’s a great honor.”
The following morning, on Nov 6, Trump attended a breakfast meeting with US and Japanese company executives. During the meeting, the President emphasized his intentions to fix the business and trade imbalance he feels exists between the two nations, especially in the automobile industry.
“Try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over,” Trump stated. “That’s not too much to ask. “Is that rude to ask?”
At an 11:03am local, POTUS’ motorcade arrived at the Imperial Residence in Tokyo, where President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were greeted by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. At 11:40 am, the motorcade departed the Emperor’s residence, and made its way to the government palace to join Prime Minister Abe and his wife in a welcome ceremony and review of troops. After standing for both Japanese and American national anthems, the leaders greeted US and Japan delegations.
At lunch, around 12:00 pm local time, US and Japanese delegations sat opposite each other directly on straw tatami mats at a long low table. Trump and Abe sat in the middle of their respective parties, facing one another, and gave brief opening remarks before eating.
Prime Minister Abe expressed his heartfelt condolences on the Texas shooting that occurred that morning. Continuing, Abe said “I very much look forward to having an in-depth and candid discussion to cover the issue of North Korea and other challenges that we face. The Japan-U.S. alliance is the foundation for peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region, as well as in the international community. And through your visit to Japan this time, I am ready to further solidify our unwavering bond and relationship under the alliance.”
Trump responded by thanking Abe for the past two days and their friendship. “We will be now discussing trade,” Trump continued. “We’ll be discussing North Korea. We’ll be discussing military. I appreciate all of the purchases you’re making toward military equipment and other things in the United States. And, you know, we make the best, and you will get the best service.”
Later that day, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, along with Prime Minister Abe and his wife Akie Abe, met with family members of victims who were abducted by North Korea. The parents of Megumi Yokota, one of the many Japanese citizens who was abducted by North Korea during the 1970s and 80s to teach Japanese to Pyongyang agents, were also present.
During a press conference after the meeting, Trump expressed his sympathies towards the family members and said “I think it would be a tremendous signal if Kim Jong Un would send them back. That would be the start of something I think would be just something very special if they would do that.”
POTUS and FLOTUS departed Yokota Air Base at 10:06 am local on Nov 7 for South Korea, where they will be hosted by Prime Minister Moon Jae-in.