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Local pundits view “Trump Shock” as an opportunity to break free from the U.S.

  • November 12, 2016
  • , Asahi
  • JMH Summary

Although the prevalent view among mainstream political and media circles in Japan is that Tokyo will probably have a very difficult time stewarding its relationship with Washington under “President Trump,” some local pundits are pleased with his election, which they see as a golden opportunity for Japan to become independent of the United States. Cartoonist Yoshinori Kobayashi said on his blog (11/10): “His victory was unexpected, but it was good news for patriots like me. The TPP will become irrelevant and globalism will come to an end, as Mr. Trump advocates protectionism. Japan will also be forced to become independent militarily because he may choose to pull U.S. troops out of Japan. He may even allow us to pursue the nuclear option.” Commentator Tsunehira Furuya wrote in an email newsletter (11/10): “Japan’s ‘postwar regime’ managed by pro-U.S., lightly-armed, and economy-oriented administrations will come to an end with President Trump. This is a great opportunity for nationalists calling for independence from the U.S. and constitutional revision to step up their campaigns.”


Sankei’s (11/10) managing editor Masato Inui wrote in a front-page commentary: “If Donald Trump decides to withdraw U.S. troops, Japan should opt to enhance the SDF’s equipment dramatically. In such a scenario, Japan could develop an aircraft carrier of its own. Although it is not realistic for Japan to pursue nuclear development as ‘condoned’ by Mr. Trump on account of strong domestic opposition arising from the fact that Japan is the only country to have suffered atomic bombing, the option would still be effective as a diplomatic card vis-à-vis China. We should explore the possibility of implementing the TPP without U.S. participation…. It is high time for Japan to strive to become a ‘great power’ that doesn’t need to rely excessively on the United States on the military and economic fronts.”  


Ruri Miura, a rising star in Japanese academia, said in a blog (11/10) entry: “Japan must now stand on its own two feet. Donald Trump is a successful businessman who has full confidence in his ability to make a deal. He will reject Japan’s careful explanations on the history and present status of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Instead of shouldering more host nation support for the U.S. military, Japan should increase its spending on conventional weapons while taking on part of the security burden borne by the U.S. military voluntarily. Japan should pursue a responsible defense policy, actively put forward ideas on creating a new international order, and implement much-awaited economic reforms without fail.”


Some thinkers are even calling for Japan to use its own “compass” to guide the country through the uncharted waters to be created by President Trump. Chairman Jitsuro Terashima of Japan Research Institute Ltd. said in an interview with Asahi (11/12): “The world is experiencing a paradigm shift. Since the end of WWII, Japan has been accustomed to dealing with the world through the eyes of the United States. However, this approach lost its validity with the election of Donald Trump. Rather than paying more for the U.S. military with the goal of smooth relations with the Trump administration, Japan must draw up a new security paradigm for Asia without relying on military means. East Asian leaders do not necessarily subscribe to Tokyo’s call for forging robust security partnerships in order to deal with a rising China.”    

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