The outcome of the U.S. presidential election will have a considerable impact on Japan in terms of foreign and security policies, such as policy toward China and North Korea and how to handle the TPP agreement. All newspapers actively discussed the political stance and policies of Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
When Trump was named the official Republican candidate in July, all newspapers unanimously criticized his inward-looking policies and offensive language.
Trump demanded an increase in the allies’ share in the expenditures for stationing U.S. forces and threatened to withdraw them if allies fail to comply. He rejected the TPP agreement.
In its editorial on July 23, Sankei Shimbun voiced doubt that Trump’s policies will make America truly great again, citing his pledge to “make American great again” in his acceptance speech. Arguing that strengthening relations with its allies is actually in the U.S.’s national interest, it pointed out, “The overseas deployment of U.S. forces is part of its world strategy, and protecting freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and other critical sea lanes directly affects U.S. security,” criticizing Trump’s misconception.
Sankei also asserted the importance of the TPP for the free trade system. It argued that “its significance lies in the fact that Japan and the U.S. and not China, which is escalating its hegemonism, will play the central role in building a new regional economic order,” stressing the TPP’s importance from the standpoint of strategy against China.
Asahi Shimbun also criticized Trump’s position by stating: “His political method of emphasizing only the downside of globalization and spreading the illusion that shutting down the country will solve all the problems is populism pure and simple.” (July 23 issue)
Most editorials were more or less positive about Clinton’s nomination as the official Democratic candidate.
Sankei’s editorial on July 28 cited the fact that the political platform adopted by the Democratic National Convention included strengthening relations with Japan and other allies, noting that “this is commendable in that it is also in line with Japan’s national interest.” It also pointed out that the platform mentioned fulfilling the historical responsibility of the Japan-U.S. relationship and the need to protect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, but said that Clinton “will have to come up with concrete policies,” demanding that she produce results.
Nikkei, in its editorial on July 31, hailed Clinton’s stance of “adhering to the Obama administration’s declared policy that the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty covers the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa.”
On the same day, Yomiuri Shimbun’s editorial also asserted the importance of strengthening the bilateral alliance, expressing hopes on Clinton’s ability, since she had also declared that the Senkakus are covered by the Security Treaty when she was secretary of state.
Asahi Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun both argued that strengthening the security alliance is a “matter of course” (July 30), writing that they “welcomed” Clinton’s nomination. (July 28) However, they said very little about Japan’s security environment. (Slightly abridged)