“Trump is a trustworthy leader.” After Thursday’s meeting in the Trump Tower in Manhattan, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the first world leader to meet President-elect Trump, said he’s confident that the new US administration will prove to be a reliable partner for his country. In front of reporters the Japanese Prime Minister has described as “frank and sincere” his meeting with Trump. ” The talks – he said – made me feel sure that we can build a relationship of trust”
Probably the Japanese government was hoping for a victory of Hillary Clinton to the US elections last November 8, also because of some alarming statements made by Trump during the election campaign, about the need for Japan to contribute more, in economic terms, to assist American troops on Japanese soil and to acquire a nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to North Korea’s threats . Another problematic point emerged during the campaign concerns the opposition declared by Trump to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, on which the Japanese government strongly pointed, instead. Abe therefore wanted to meet Trump to express his concerns and, at the same time, reaffirm the commitment of his government to strengthen the alliance with the US, more than ever central today to Japan in diplomatic and strategic terms, especially to contain China and its hegemonic aims on the Pacific area.
Prime Minister Abe did not provide too many details on the talks content. Basically it was a preliminary meeting, for mutual knowing, in which the two leaders have avoided going into detail. It’s been, however, agreed that after January 20, the day of the settlement of Trump at the White House, will be scheduled a new meeting to ” to cover a wider area in greater depth”. ” Any deeper conversations about policy and the relationship between Japan and the United States – reiterated Kellyanne Conway, an influential member of the electoral team of Trump – will have to wait until after the inauguration”.
It seems however that the meeting served to resize the Japanese concerns about future initiatives of the new US president on the Asian chessboard. Katsuyuki Kawai, an adviser to President Abe, has conducted talks with several members of the transition team, and some legislators, receiving assurances about the future of US-Japan relations. ” We don’t have to take each word that Mr. Trump said publicly lite rally”.
The meeting, in the protagonists declarations, thus served to reaffirm the strength of the bond between the two allies. Some analysts, however, consider premature the initiative of the Japanese Prime Minister, since Trump has not officially assumed the presidency and is completely absorbed by the formation of his government team. Koichi Nakano, a Sophia Univesrity political scientist interviewed by CNN, expressed his skepticism about Abe’s move: ” What is there to gain, I have no idea?” Abe) is not talking to a president yet.”
Less categorical was Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Japan’s Temple University, who, when asked again by CNN, gave a positive reading of the interview, at least from the Japanese prime minister’s point of view. According to Kingston, in fact, Abe would have a particular sympathy for a certain category of leaders, which Trump is likely to belong to. ” If you look at who Abe admires around the world, he likes strong leaders like Putin, Modi and Erdogan, who have despotic tendencies “.
Beyond the personal sympathies, the new administration Trump will have to look very carefully to Asia in coming years and will face a China increasingly strong. In this context, the alliance with Japan will play a strategic and indispensable role.