Nuclear Nightmares in Tokyo: TNT (Trump in Tokyo) Edition

an expat’s view of the end of the world

(Please note that I continue to post “an expat’s view of the end of the world” at Nuclear Nightmares in Tokyo. Why not drop in for a spell!)

And so autumn colours, all Ivanka-kimono red and Donald-skintone orange, have settled over Japan as the Trumps pass in Tokyo like ships in the night: Ivanka on her way out; Donald on his way in.

Trump spoke at Yokota Air Base on arrival in-country Sunday: “No dictator, no regime, no nation should ever underestimate American resolve… “Every once in a while, in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?… We will never yield, never waver and never falter in defense of our freedom… It’s a big problem for our country and the world, and we want to get it solved… ” (1)

Fair enough. It’s a long-standing problem, and isn’t solving itself.

So how does Japan fit into all of this? According to a Pew Research Centre poll, 66% of people polled in Japan are very concerned about North Korean nuclear weapons — a higher percentage than in the US or even South Korea. (2) Turns out, they should be.

“What is often overlooked as we deal with this crisis is that many of those North Korean missile systems are built and being tested for use against Japan and against U.S. military bases in Japan in the event of a conflict,” said Evans Revere, a former principal deputy assistant secretary of state who specialized in North Korea. (3)

So what is Japan supposed to do? Apparently, until now they haven’t been doing enough according to Trump, who was cited by the Japan Times as saying that he couldn’t understand why Japan, a nation of proud samurai warriors, didn’t shoot down the North Korean missiles that overflew northern Japan. (Hint: the Meiji Restoration abolished the samurai as a warrior class in the 19th century; ‘sides which, they used bows…) (4)

At least some in the government of Japan seem to agree. Masahiko Shibayama, a senior party official in Prime Minister Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, argued back in September that “We can’t permit North Korea to keep making threats and ignoring the rules. We need a deterrent for those threats”. (5)

Fortunately for Shibayama, help appears to be on the way in the form of a revised Article 9 of Japan’s pacifist constution, which Abe plans to re-write in order to allow Japan to re-militarize for the first time since World War II (though many would agree that Japan’s Self-Defence Force is a military in fact if not in name).

Meantime, apparently the constitution does not need to be revised for Japan to spend billions on missile defence from America, as Trump proudly crowed: “He [Abe] will shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment from the United States,” Trump said. “The prime minister is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should. And we make the best military equipment by far.” (6)

For the rest of his 48 hours in Japan, his hosts attempted to make the American president as comfortable as possible, providing him with a signature ball cap, a trip to the US Air Force’s Yokota Air Base, hamburgers for lunch and steak for dinner, and shakes hand (rather than the traditional bow) with the Emperor of Japan.

Trump closed out his visit with words of comfort: “The era of strategic patience is over,” he repeated on Monday, to bookend his final thought at Yokota Air Base: “I hope it works out for everybody.”

Pikotaro, the Japanese comedian of Pen Pineapple Apple Pen fame, will apparently meet with Trump before the latter departs Tuesday for Seoul, South Korea. Here, Colbert reports on the role Pikotaro played in breaking the ice and solidifying the bromance between President Trump and Prime Minister Abe

Next stop: Seoul, South Korea on Tuesday. 35 miles from the DMZ. Your move, Rocket Man.

Update: Read Laura Bradley’s “Trevor Noah: ‘Trump Knows Two Things About Japan, and Neither of Them Is Right’” at Vanity Fair for late-night comedians’ take on Trump in Tokyo

(This is part of an ongoing series of blogs about the war of words and nuclear showdown between President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Juon-un. You can read other posts at Nuclear Nightmares over Tokyo,https://medium.com/nuclear-nightmares-over-tokyo)

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