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Ruling, opposition parties’ reaction to Abe-Trump meeting

Government and ruling party officials expressed relief at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s successful start in building a relationship of trust with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at their first meeting, where Abe came to regard Trump as a “trustworthy leader.” On the other hand, the opposition parties are critical of the fact that details of the meeting were not made public.


Commenting on the 90-minute long Abe-Trump meeting, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Taro Aso stated at a news conference on Nov. 18: “They were on the same wavelength and the meeting went well.” He lauded the fact that a relationship where the two leaders can discuss policies frankly has been built.


Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai also said: “I give this proactive, bold diplomatic gesture high marks. He was fully successful in laying the groundwork [for future relations].”


However, concerns regarding positions taken by Trump during the election campaign, such as withdrawal from the TPP or increasing Japan’s share of the cost of U.S. forces, have not been dispelled. Nikai stated that “our party will also send people to the U.S. to gather information.” The LDP plans to dispatch its International Bureau chief, Kazunori Wada, to the U.S. shortly in its effort to support Abe’s diplomacy with the U.S.


Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi told a general meeting of the party’s House of Councillors members on Nov. 18: “(This meeting) was a first step. It is important to engage in discussions on specific issues in order to be on the same page as we move forward.”


Democratic Party (DP) President Renho also gave credit to Abe for being the first leader of the advanced countries to meet with Trump at a general meeting of DP Upper House members on Nov. 18.


However, the DP and other opposition parties remain opposed to the government’s TPP accord ratification bill and related legislation because Trump is advocating the U.S.’s withdrawal from the TPP and the accord’s effectuation hangs in the balance.


Renho said on the same day: “I would like to ask Prime Minister Abe directly what he said about the U.S.’s withdrawal from the TPP and other issues that bear on Japan’s national interest and what was [Trump’s] answer.” She indicated that she will personally grill Abe at the Upper House special committee on the TPP on Nov. 24.


DP “Acting” President Jun Azumi was critical of the meeting. He told a news conference on Nov. 18: “Flying to meet with [Trump] right after he was elected was like conducting tributary diplomacy.” He pointed out that “the Prime Minister has the responsibility to explain to the people why he concluded that [Trump] is trustworthy after meeting him for only 90 minutes.”

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