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Trump aide: No Japan exit by U.S. military

By Satoshi Ogawa / Yomiuri Shimbun Washington Bureau Chief


WASHINGTON — Michael Flynn, foreign policy adviser for U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said U.S. forces stationed in Japan will not be withdrawn from the country if Trump is elected president.


Trump previously hinted that he may consider withdrawing U.S. forces stationed in Japan.


During an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Tuesday, Flynn indicated that Trump would demand Japan shoulder increasing costs for U.S. forces stationed in Japan and hold an honest discussion on the matter.


Flynn was once considered a candidate for vice president. He is highly trusted by Trump and appears to exert a significant degree of influence on Trump’s foreign and security policies.


“The U.S.-Japan alliance will strengthen under a Trump presidency because of his focus on strengthening the U.S. economy. When the U.S. economy is strong, we will all benefit. The world will benefit and certainly the U.S.-Japan alliance will benefit,” Flynn said during the interview.


He said Trump would also review the United States’ alliances with other countries. “We cannot continue to pay the full burden of costs financially,” he said.


Flynn also said: “This does not mean Trump wins and we start pulling forces out of Japan; that won’t happen. But there does have to be a different conversation, and that’s really where, from his perspective, when we talk about America First.”


Regarding whether the United States would, based on the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, defend Japan if the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture — around which China continues provocative actions — were invaded, Flynn criticized U.S. President Barack Obama. “I’ll be very blunt. I don’t know what President Obama would do. If you’re asking me this question, that implies there is an uncertainty in the leadership of the government of Japan in the answer to that question,” Flynn said.


“Never mind what Japan has to do and what Japan needs to face, but the U.S. has to be strong. The U.S. has to be ready,” he added.


Trump has indicated one option for Japan and South Korea is possessing nuclear weapons as a countermeasure against North Korea. Flynn declined to specify whether the United States would continue to provide a “nuclear umbrella” and how to deal with the financial burdens, but said, “This is an issue that must come with a mature conversation between friends.”

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