Trump hugs ally Japan after easing U.S.-China tensions
  • Thursday, December 13, 2018
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Trump hugs ally Japan after easing U.S.-China tensions

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, accompanied by their wives, first lady Melania Trump and Akie Abe, waved before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base Md. today.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Donald Trump shook hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington today.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, greeted Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, center right, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington today.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    President Donald Trump welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington today.

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WASHINGTON >> President Donald Trump, fresh off patching up ties with China, reassured Japan’s leader today that the U.S. will defend its close ally. Together, the pronouncements illustrated a shift toward a more mainstream Trump stance on U.S. policy toward Asia.

Welcoming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the White House with a hug, Trump said he wants to bring the post-World War II alliance with Japan “even closer.” While such calls are ritual after these types of meetings, from Trump they’re sure to calm anxieties that he has stoked by demanding that America’s partners pay more for their own defense.

Abe, a nationalist adept at forging relationships with self-styled strongmen overseas, was the only world leader to meet the Republican before his inauguration. He is now the second to do so since Trump took office. Flattering the billionaire businessman, Abe said he would welcome the United States becoming “even greater.”

He also invited Trump to visit Japan this year. Trump accepted, according to a joint statement.

Other leaders of America’s closest neighbors and allies, such as Mexico, Britain and Australia, have been singed by their encounters or conversations with Trump.

But the optics today were positive. After a working lunch on economic issues, the two leaders boarded Air Force One with their wives for a trip to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Florida. Trump and Abe are scheduled to play golf Saturday.

Their Oval Office meeting came hours after Trump reaffirmed Washington’s long-standing “one China” policy in a call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. That statement will similarly ease anxieties in East Asia after Beijing was angered and other capitals were rattled by earlier suggestions that he might use Taiwan as leverage in trade, security and other negotiations.

Although Japan is a historic rival of China, Trump said that his long and “warm” conversation with Xi was good for Tokyo, too.

“I believe that will all work out very well for everybody, China, Japan, the United States and everybody in the region,” Trump said at a joint news conference with Abe.

Stepping carefully into Japan’s longstanding territorial dispute with China over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea, Trump said the U.S. is committed to the security of Japan and all areas under its administrative control. The implication was that the U.S.-Japan defense treaty covers the disputed islands, which Japan which calls the Senkaku, but China calls the Diaoyu.

Beijing opposes such statements, but Trump’s wording allowed for some diplomatic wiggle room. The joint statement released later was more explicit, however, in spelling out the U.S. commitment.

Abe has championed a more active role for Japan’s military. He has eased constraints imposed by the nation’s pacifist post-war constitution and allowed forces to defend allies, even if Japan itself is not under attack.

As a candidate, Trump urged even greater self-reliance, at one point even raising the notion of Japan and South Korea developing their own nuclear weapons as a deterrent to North Korea.

He made no similar remark today, instead thanking Japan for hosting nearly 50,000 American troops, which also serve as a counterweight to China’s increased regional influence. He said freedom of navigation and dealing with North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats are a “very high priority.”

There was less agreement on economics.

One of Trump’s first actions as president was to withdraw the U.S. from a 12-nation, trans-Pacific trade agreement that was negotiated by the Obama administration and strongly supported by Tokyo.

Diverting from Trump’s stance that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is bad for America, Abe stressed the importance of a “free and fair common set of rules” for trade among the worlds’ most dynamic economies.

“That was the purpose of TPP. That importance has not changed,” Abe said through an interpreter, though both leaders held out the possibility of a future bilateral, U.S.-Japanese deal.

Trump has also criticized Toyota Motor Corp. for planning to build an assembly plant in Mexico and has complained Japanese don’t buy enough U.S.-made cars.

But Abe told U.S. business leaders today that “a whopping majority” of the Japanese cars running on American roads are manufactured in the U.S. by American workers. That includes 70 percent of Toyotas. Abe said Japanese business supports some 840,000 jobs in the United States.

That may not be enough for Trump, who is highly sensitive to U.S. trade deficits.

Japan logged the second-largest surplus with the U.S. last year, behind only China, and there had been some expectation Abe would use the visit to propose new Japanese investments to help Trump spur American job growth. There was no such announcement today.

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    • Trumpers don’t care…as long as it’s not going to Obama…and Hillary lost by a landslide…Trump is proving to be Americas Hero…Saving us from the problems he caused…#MAGA

        • Now if we add what it costs daily to be in New York…Obama will lose again…Trump the clear winner…#MAGA

      • yes, Apprentice POTUS really showed Prez Xi Jinping how to Make China Great Again. even Chinese news media were suprised how quickly the Cheetoh Führer rolled over, like a baby Panda they observed !!

        DJT (on the phone): “no, no , there’s no such thing as 1 china”
        XJ: “wait till I reach over there & grab you by the kit kat”
        DJT: “OK, OK, 1 china, how would U like me to serve that policy to U? I got a gold plated spoon from my NY place”
        XJ: “sounds delightful, chump”

      • Do you seriously want to get into an argument about which president costs taxpayers the more money when it comes to accommodations? Nah, nah… On second thought, go right ahead.

      • “Remember Trumps OWNS the resort…”

        I don’t believe that means a discount to the taxpayers. During his campaign, when they used one of his properties for a campaign event, the property was paid rent. So his personal business made a profit—and he didn’t pay taxes on it. That makes him SMART! Ask him yourself!!!

      • Yup, I also echo that. Don’t even try to talk about Presidential costs. If you do, start with Obama. And only the Mr. but the Mrs., e.g. trips to England, Italy, China, Africa, Ireland, etc. But SA won’t talk about that.

    • trump is backing away from his absurd campaign promises to force China to give us the world. China blew the wimp off and moved on. Trump forgot that we owe China over a trillion dollars and we will be borrowing more to pay for his tax cut for the rich.

  • It was a fun press conference to watch and listen. Then to have a journalist to try and slip in the question (being politely scolded for doing so) about the travel moratorium vs. the purpose of this meeting Japan and U.S. relations. There was some push back from PM Abe, but overall a good joint press conference. I just wanted both PM Abe and President Trump to go and have their lunch and talk business. The get on Air Force One and down to Mar-a-Lago for a round of golf and more business. For those who are unfamiliar with the nuances of business dynamics, a lot gets done at a “working lunch” and a round of golf. Just saying… 🙂 By the way, regarding Japan’s “…more active role for Japan’s military. He has eased constraints imposed by the nation’s pacifist post-war constitution and allowed forces to defend allies, even if Japan itself is not under attack.” Thinking out loud, watch for some dealings with the Japan-made Type 10 battle tank which is being set up for export. Nimble and fast 70km forward and in reverse, 120mm cannon…maybe a good compliment to the Abrams (?)

  • President Trump stayed remarkably on script this time and, for the most part, it worked. I do think however, that Prime Minister Abe was already aware that the White House is “very famous.”

  • Trump picked a fight he couldn’t win when he rejected the “One China” policy and backed Taiwan. Now that he has quickly backed down, he has shown China that he is a paper tiger and a loser.

    • bsdetection> Not so fast. Capitulation by POTUS is a good strategy, giving the Chinese something other than military or economic possible actions. Since we have assured them of accepting the “one china policy,” it clears the way for more diplomacy interaction between the US and China. Good move I would say in this case. If it were reversed, then you had best get your survival gear together. KABOOM as some would say on these posts. Look daddy the nice mushroom cloud. Have a nice day.

  • By the way, aside from all the disappointing rhetoric, has anyone taken the time to evaluate their investment / retirement portfolio and re-balanced same in late 2016 or early 2017? If you did so you understand what’s been happening. If you haven’t you may want to consider, it’s still not too late. The gains that have been made personally has been extraordinary in the past 30 days. After viewing gains, my son got real interested in rolling over his company sponsored 401K to a Rollover IRA. Investigated the Sectors (10 of the 11 +) and did not realize the vast number of funds available. I would recommend getting some advice from a certified Financial Planner and take advantage of the uptick. Forward looking…well…looks good! 🙂

  • NYTimes: “By backing down in a telephone call with China’s president on his promise to review the status of Taiwan, President Trump may have averted a confrontation with America’s most powerful rival.

    “But in doing so, he handed China a victory and sullied his reputation with its leader, Xi Jinping, as a tough negotiator who ought to be feared, analysts said.

    “Trump lost his first fight with Xi and he will be looked at as a paper tiger,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China, in Beijing, and an adviser to China’s State Council. “This will be interpreted in China as a great success, achieved by Xi’s approach of dealing with him.”

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