Trump calls Japan ‘crucial ally’ as he kicks off Asia trip

Sunday, 05 November 2017, 12:01:46 PM. President Donald Trump praised Japan as a “treasured partner” and “crucial ally” Sunday, as he kicked off a grueling and consequential first trip to Asia.

FUSSA, Japan (AP) — President Donald Trump praised Japan as a “treasured partner” and “crucial ally” Sunday, as he kicked off a grueling and consequential first trip to Asia.

Trump landed at Yokota Air Base on the outskirts of Tokyo, where he was greeted by cheers from service members. Trump then donned a bomber jacket for a speech in which he touted American firepower and the U.S. alliance with Japan.

“Japan is a treasured partner and crucial ally of the United States and today we thank them for welcoming us and for decades of wonderful friendship between our two nations,” he said, speaking in front of an American flag inside an airplane hangar.

“On behalf of the United States of America, I send the warmest wishes of the America people to the citizens of this remarkable country,” he said.

After the speech, Trump was set to head to a private golf course for an informal lunch and golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump was expected to exhort allies and rivals to step up efforts to counter the dangers posed by North Korea’s nuclear threat. Before he landed, Trump used the first moments of his trip to denounce North Korea as “a big problem” that must “be solved.”

“There’s been 25 years of total weakness, so we are taking a very much different approach” in dealing with the renegade regime in Pyongyang,” he said, speaking to reporters on Air Force One.

Some regional analysts have speculated that Trump’s presence in Asia may prompt North Korea to take provocative action, like a missile test. Trump, when asked about that possibility, said “we’ll soon find out.”

The 12-day, five-country trip, the longest Far East itinerary for a president in a generation, comes at a precarious moment for Trump. Just days ago, his former campaign chairman was indicted and another adviser pleaded guilty as part of an investigation into possible collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russian officials.

It will pose a test for Trump’s stamina — but Trump assured reporters aboard Air Force that he was up for the task. “It’s grueling, they tell me, but fortunately that’s historically not been a problem for me. One thing you people will say, that’s not been a problem,” he said.

It also presents a crucial international test for a president looking to reassure Asian allies worried that his inward-looking “America First” agenda could cede power in the region to China. They also are rattled by his bellicose rhetoric about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The North’s growing missile arsenal threatens the capitals Trump will visit.

“The trip comes, I would argue, at a very inopportune time for the president. He is under growing domestic vulnerabilities that we all know about, hour to hour,” said Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “The conjunction of those issues leads to the palpable sense of unease about the potential crisis in Korea.”

Trump’s spontaneous, and at time reckless, style flies in the face of the generations-old traditions and protocol that govern diplomatic exchanges in Asia. The grand receptions expected for him in Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing and beyond are sure to be lavish attempts to impress the president, who raved about the extravagances shown him on earlier visits to Saudi Arabia and France.

The trip will also put Trump in face-to-face meetings with authoritarian leaders for whom he has expressed admiration. They include China’s Xi Jinping, whom Trump has likened to “a king,” and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, who has sanctioned the extrajudicial killings of drug dealers.

Trump is also expected to have a second private audience with Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of a summit in Vietnam.

He told reporters that the meeting is “expected” to happen and that he “will want Putin’s help” in dealing with the North Korea nuclear crisis. Trump and Putin could cross paths twice during the president’s lengthy Asia trip: at a summit in Vietnam and later in the Philippines. It was unclear where they would meet.

Trump and Putin previously met along the sidelines of a summit in Europe this summer.

The White House is signaling that Trump will push American economic interests in the region, but the North Korean threat is expected to dominate the trip. One of Trump’s two major speeches will come before the National Assembly in Seoul. Fiery threats against the North could resonate differently than they do from the distance of Washington.

Trump will forgo a trip to the Demilitarized Zone, the stark border between North and South Korea. All U.S. presidents except one since Ronald Reagan have visited the DMZ in a sign of solidarity with Seoul. The White House contends that Trump’s commitment to South Korea is already crystal clear, as evidenced by his war of words with Kim and his threats to deliver “fire and fury” to North Korea if it does not stop threatening American allies.

The escalation of rhetoric, a departure from the conduct of past presidents, has undermined confidence in the U.S. as a stabilizing presence in Asia.

“There’s a danger if there is a lot of muscle flexing,” said Mike Chinoy, a senior fellow at the U.S.-China Institute at the University of Southern California. “Trump has been going right up to the edge and I wouldn’t rule out some sort of forceful North Korean reaction to Trump’s presence in the region,” he said.

The White House said Trump would be undeterred.

“The president will use whatever language he wants to use, obviously. That’s been of great reassurance to our allies, partners and others in the region who are literally under the gun of this regime,” White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster said Thursday. “I don’t think the president really modulates his language, have you noticed?”

At each stop, Trump will urge his hosts to squeeze North Korea by stopping trading with the North and sending home North Korean citizens working abroad. That includes China, which competes with the U.S. for influence in the region and provides much of North Korea’s economic lifeblood.

The White House is banking on the close relationships Trump has established with some Asian leaders to help make his demands more palatable.

Officials acknowledge that Trump does not yet have a feel for Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s newly elected liberal president. But Trump has demonstrated cordial relations with Xi and has struck up a friendship with Abe.

While Xi and Abe have recently tightened their control on power, Trump arrives weakened by low poll numbers, a stalled domestic agenda and the swirling Russia probe.

But Trump told reporters that he and Xi, now believed to be China’s strongest leader in decades, will go into their meetings on equal footing.

“Excuse me, so am I,” he said, pointing to the stock market, which has been hitting record highs, and other economic indicators, as evidence of his own power.

“We are coming off some of the strongest numbers we have ever had and he knows that and he respects that and he’s a friend of mine,” Trump said. “I think he is viewing us as very, very strong.”

___

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin and Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo contributed to this report.

___

Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire

HIDE COMMENTS

blog comments powered by Disqus

Click to Read More

Click to Hide

Top Stories

Michael Oreskes, NPR's senior vice president for news, resigned Wednesday after several women said he sexually harassed them. (Associated Press/File)

Top figures at liberal news outlets caught up in ‘Weinstein effect’

Donna Brazile said she was shocked at the sorry condition of the Democratic National Committee's finances when she took over in July 2016. (Associated Press/File)

Brazile says she found DNC deep in debt from Obama, controlled by Clinton a year before nomination

obj.0.content_object.caption

Quiz: US Citizenship Test - Could You Pass?

In this Sept. 5, 2017, file photo, Yurexi Quinones, 24, of Manassas, Va., a college student who is studying social work and a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, rallies next to Ana Rice, 18, of Manassas, Va., far right, in support of DACA, outside of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

GOP’s tax bill cancels $23 billion in credits claimed by illegal immigrants

The Dallas Cowboys, led by owner Jerry Jones (center) took a knee prior to the national anthem and an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals. ESPN anchor Jemele Hill last month targeted Jones, after the Dallas Cowboys owner stated that players who disrespect the flag would not play for his team. (Associated Press/File)

Republicans cut tax break for NFL, let churches pick sides in political elections

obj.0.content_object.caption

Quiz: Test Your Civil War Knowledge

Then-presidential nominee Hillary Clinton reaches for a falling balloon at the conclusion of the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Trump: Why isn’t DOJ investigating Clinton rigging of 2016 primary?

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Kushner cooperating with Mueller’s Russia probe: Report

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, right, stops in to speak to workers at a campaign office for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., left, in Davie, Fla., Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ** FILE **

Hillary defends Trump dossier, makes dubious claims about its release

Paul Manafort leaves Federal District Court in Washington, Monday, Oct. 30, 2017. Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, and Manafort's business associate Rick Gates pleaded not guilty to felony charges of conspiracy against the United States and other counts. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

FBI agents manhandled Manafort and his wife during pre-dawn raid in intimidation effort

ap090421032401_primary_image.jpg

Conservatives in Hollywood: Celebrities who lean right

President Trump promises to kill the Diversity Visa Lottery. (Associated Press)

Republicans take aim at ‘diversity’ visa lottery program that let terror suspect into U.S.

The New York Times building in New York is seen here on Oct. 10, 2012. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Prominent ex-NYT reporter comes out as longtime Planned Parenthood donor

converted 1911.jpg

21 best guns for home protection

A photo of Sayfullo Saipov is displayed at a news conference at One Police Plaza Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in New York. Saipov is accused of driving a truck on a bike path that killed several and injured others Tuesday near One World Trade Center. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

White House says Saipov should be considered ‘enemy combatant’

This undated photo provided by St. Charles County Department of Corrections via KMOV shows the Sayfullo Saipov. A man in a rented pickup truck mowed down pedestrians and cyclists along a busy bike path near the World Trade Center memorial on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2017, killing several. Officials who were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on the condition of anonymity identified the attacker Saipov. (St. Charles County Department of Corrections/KMOV via AP)

Limbaugh rips Schumer, diversity visa program after terror attack: ‘You own this guy’

AP26539704575

Christians in Hollywood

Members of the San Francisco 49ers kneel during the national anthem ahead of an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017, in Philadelphia,. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Papa John’s pizza CEO chews out NFL for hurting sales by fumbling anthem protests

Newsletters

  •  Daily
  •  Weekly
  •  Pruden on Politics
  •  Charles Hurt

Find us on Facebook

Find us on Twitter

All site contents © Copyright 2017 The Washington Times, LLC|3600 New York Avenue NE | Washington, DC 20002 |202-636-3000
...Read more
Share this

You might also like

Similar