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Journalists assess President Trump’s first visit to Japan

In their Monday evening programs, NHK and all commercial networks reported extensively on President Trump’s activities in Japan on Sunday and Monday, including a bilateral meeting and a joint press conference with Prime Minister Abe, a call on the Emperor, and a meeting with the families of the Japanese abductees. An NHK reporter commented that President Trump and Prime Minister Abe sent a strong message to the world, especially China and Russia, about their resolve to apply greater pressure on North Korea. The journalist said that the Japanese government is pleased with the support expressed by the President for its efforts to resolve the abduction issue. The reporter added, however, the President did not comment during the press conference on whether the U.S. will take military action against North Korea.


The reporter said that attention will be focused on what kind of message the President will convey in his address to the South Korean parliament on Wednesday and whether he will be able to obtain China’s cooperation in dealing with North Korea in his talks with the Chinese leader on Thursday. Attention will also be focused on his speech in Vietnam on Friday, during which the President is expected to present the United States’ vision for the Asia-Pacific region. The journalist commented that the Japanese government is satisfied with the outcome of the visit by President Trump because the leaders of the two nations agreed on the “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” that was initiated by Prime Minister Abe.


Another NHK reporter commented that President Trump will be tested on whether he can resolve the North Korean issue peacefully. The journalist also said that although President Trump did not directly call for FTA negotiations with Japan, the Japanese government is worried that Washington will probably make such a request in the future in view of Washington’s concern about such issues as automobile and agricultural trade and pharmaceutical prices in Japan because eliminating the trade imbalance is the President’s key interest.


A reporter of the commercial network NTV speculated that although President Trump did not mention the possibility of the United States taking military action, it is possible that the President and the prime minister discussed the issue, including how to evacuate Japanese nationals from South Korea in the event of a contingency on the Korean Peninsula, during their meetings. TV Asahi took note of the President’s reference during the joint press conference to Japan’s planned purchase of military equipment from the U.S. The President stated that Japan will be able to shoot down North Korean missiles if it purchases U.S.-made military equipment. A regular commentator for its nightly news program “Hodo Station” stated that some in the Japanese government are worried that Japan will be forced to purchase expensive equipment.

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