The Administration

Trump’s US-Japan talk will set the course for balance of power in Asia

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Japanese news has been dominated by the talk and speculation of what will be discussed between President-elect Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, Nov. 17.

The central theme of the talks will be “the future of the US-Japan alliance,” focussing on security and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

{mosads}For the U.S.-Japan alliance, the main issue for the president-elect will be the cost burden for the U.S. military presence in Japan while Prime Minister Abe intends to convince the U.S. side that Japan is already paying sufficiently. Mr. Trump is expected to demand further economic and military commitment from Japan.  


Mr. Trump, who has a realistic and rational way of thinking, must look at the significance of the U.S.-Japan alliance against China and Russia, and stop the extreme arguments and demands that he made during the election, such as withdrawing the base from Japan.  

Still, the argument concerning the degree of U.S. commitment versus the Japanese investment in the security relationship will be the primary point of interest.

In a world where the United Nations does not effectively maintain world peace anymore and the outlaw state of China is rampant throughout Asian, Japan will be pressed to make the point that we can protect our country by ourselves, according to the principles of conservatism and individualism.

Mr. Abe’s resolution is already settled.

If President-elect Trump will communicate and implement his resolution for Japan to take a greater role in our own self defense as an expression of equal partnership with the U.S., the U.S.-Japan alliance will be fortified. Then the U.S. cost reduction as well as fiscal rebuilding and peace in Asia will progress.

The next issue they will likely discuss is TPP. Since Mr. Abe has been working to put this together over five years, he will definitely push for Mr. Trump to go back on his campaign statements and support it.

Mr. Abe has already stated, “I will try to get (the Trump administration) to understand the benefits of free trade that the U.S. has been enjoying in the past.”


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However, for Mr. Trump, withdrawal from TPP was a high-profile promise to the American people during the campaign. He touted it as a key measure to protect their domestic jobs. The abstention from TPP was an important part of his promised recovery of a real economy and promotion of domestic employment.

Mr. Abe will need to make the point that, in the long run, there will be a time when the promotion of free trade will contribute to the further development of the American economy.

In addition, the TPP has an additional advantage in that the Western countries will be able to contain the Chinese trade leadership by AIIB (China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank).

Thus, although the current TPP deal is frozen, if we make a fresh start and discuss the timing and rules from the beginning, and both countries will be able to have a healthy exchange and a new TPP style-free trade agreement in future is possible. Such an agreement will undoubtedly be good for both the United States and the entire Pacific Rim region.

I sincerely hope that this meeting, which will be the first official summit talk with a Foreign Head for President-elect Trump, will be conducted with a long-term perspective and a broad view so as to bring the revival of the Great America and help realize the peace and prosperity in Asian.   

Aeba is chairman of the Asia Pacific Conservative Union and Japanese Conservative Union, best-selling author, and a well-known political commentator in the Japanese media.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill. 

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