By Seima Oki in Washington
U.S. President Donald Trump held a joint news conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe where he affirmed his policy of strengthening U.S. engagement with the Asia-Pacific region, which is becoming unstable due to China’s maritime advances and North Korea’s development of nuclear arms and missiles, with the Japan-U.S. alliance as cornerstone. Trump’s strategy of “peace through strength” in this region is taking shape.
At the news conference, Trump indicated that the security environment in Asia-Pacific is becoming increasingly harsh. He regarded China and North Korea as urgent issues threatening U.S. security and asserted that strengthening the Japan-U.S. alliance is the key to U.S. security policy in this region.
The joint statement also reflected Trump’s sense of urgency. The statement cited China’s building of military strongholds in the South China Sea and North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, using very strong language to affirm U.S. commitment to Japan’s defense: “The U.S. commitment to defend Japan through the full range of U.S. military capabilities, both nuclear and conventional, is unwavering.”
The expressions the Trump administration used in the joint statement serve to confirm Trump’s campaign pledge to achieve “peace through strength” in this region. This is also significant as a sign of a clear break from the policies of the previous Obama administration, which did not necessarily show a strong interest in the Asia-Pacific region. It is adopting a strategy to deter China and others from challenging the U.S.-led international order. (Abridged)