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Survey of newspaper editorials on Trump’s foreign, economic policies

By Tsugumasa Uchihata


Donald Trump is threatening to withdraw U.S. forces if Japan, the ROK, and other allies do not pay for all the expenses for stationing U.S. troops.


Trump is now certain to win the Republican Party’s nomination in the U.S. presidential election, but he has not stopped talking uninhibitedly. With “President Trump” becoming a real possibility, Japanese newspaper editorials have been making demands on Trump himself and the Republican Party, as well as urging the Japanese government to refute him.


Sankei Shimbun voiced stern criticism that, “Adopting positions such as Mr. Trump’s will wreak havoc in the postwar international order built under the U.S.’s leadership.” North Korea’s long-range ballistic missiles are about to reach the U.S. mainland. Containing China’s unilateral maritime advances will also serve to safeguard free trade. Peace and stability in Asia and the Pacific is in the U.S.’s national interest. Sankei wrote: “It is fundamentally wrong to think of U.S. Forces Japan (USFJ) as mercenaries defending Japan alone.”


Trump claims that the U.S. is bearing enormous cost for Japan’s defense. Mainichi Shimbun pointed out that, “It is unfair to clamor only about the U.S.’s burden and belittle the allies’ support to the U.S. This will also create an illusion among his supporters. The attitude of looking at allies only in monetary terms will be detrimental to the international position and credibility the U.S. has built over the years, as well as the very values upheld by America.”


Nihon Keizai Shimbun reproached the Japanese government. It asserted that, “Japan spends 190 billion yen for the USFJ each year, which represents 20% of its expenditures. Yet, the American public knows nothing about this. That is why they are agitated by Mr. Trump’s speech. There is no denying that the Japanese government’s diplomatic efforts have been inadequate.”


Sankei argued that, “As an ally, Japan should react immediately to such absurd statements and make efforts to correct these arguments.” Yomiuri Shimbun also pointed out that “efforts should be made to affirm that the alliance is in the interest of both countries.”


Trump has been making outrageous remarks on building a wall on the border with Mexico or banning the entry of Muslims. There is strong criticism of the Republican Party both inside and outside the United States for allowing this politically inexperienced real estate mogul to do whatever he wishes. Asahi Shimbun observed that, “The Republican Party is at the crossroads. If it really wants to field a candidate for national leader, it has the duty to guide him to adopt more realistic policies. It cannot claim to be a responsible political party if it tolerates agitation that divides the American people out of its fear of the party’s division.”


One of the causes of concern also reckoned to be behind Trump’s victory is that America is turning inward. Isolationism and protectionism are gaining ground in foreign and economic policies. Bernie Sanders, who calls himself a democratic socialist and opposes free trade, is also giving Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic Party’s nomination, a hard time.


Nikkei indicated that Trump’s claim that the U.S. should focus on rebuilding its economy under the slogan of “America First” ”is not a sudden invention; this can actually be considered an extension of President Barack Obama’s declaration that the U.S. is not the world’s police.” “It is safe to say that considering the Sanders boom, the American people are fast becoming more isolationist.”


Sankei also voiced concern about Trump’s economic policies. It stated: “[Trump] has criticized and objected to the TPP agreement. Why is he against Japan and the U.S. leading efforts to make new rules for a major regional trade partnership?”


The U.S. presidential election in November is most likely to be a contest between the Republican Party’s Trump and the Democratic Party’s Clinton. They must stop competing to say things pleasing to the ear of the public. As the leader of a superpower, they should present a responsible vision and engage in rational and constructive debate.

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