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Editorial: Overcome national crises through bonds of Japan-U.S. alliance

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Donald Trump demonstrated the unshakable bonds of the Japan-U.S. alliance to the world and confirmed that the two nations will overcome the North Korea issue and other difficult situations.


This could be considered the major achievement of Trump’s first visit to Japan.


We hope that the two leaders will make every effort to overcome crises through close communication and cooperation based on their personal relationship of trust.


In his speech at the Yokota base, Trump called Japan a “crucial ally.” This gave emphasis to the fact that the U.S. is Japan’s most important ally in overcoming national crises.


The solidarity of the Japan-U.S. alliance is indispensable for making North Korea abandon its nuclear and missile capabilities and return all the abduction victims. It is critical for containing China’s actions that imperil the international order.


The top issue at the Japan-U.S. summit was dealing with the imminent crisis caused by North Korea’s nuclear arms and missiles.


It is significant that the two leaders agreed that dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless and that now is the time to apply maximum pressure. This is because North Korea has committed to abandoning nuclear development in the past and then betrayed the international community.


Japan and the U.S. will press China and Russia to cooperate further in imposing sanctions on North Korea and strive for Japan-U.S.-ROK collaboration.


The two leaders should make further efforts to persuade China and Russia at the upcoming APEC Summit and the East Asian Summit (EAS) and at the meeting between Trump and President Xi Jinping. The safety of the Japanese and American people is at a critical phase.


It is also necessary to enhance the alliance’s deterrence and capability to deal with contingencies for diplomatic efforts to be effective.


Abe has just announced new unilateral sanctions on North Korea. He also talked about “qualitative and quantitative enhancement of Japan’s defense capability,” including importing advanced U.S. weapons, at the joint news conference. It is important to implement this policy steadily.


At his meeting with the families of the abductees, Trump said that he will “make every effort with Prime Minister Abe for their return.”


The abduction issue is a humanitarian and human rights issue that must be resolved. The two countries should cooperate in finding a solution.


We also take note of the fact that Trump urged Workers Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un to release the abductees if he wants to improve relations.


China is pursuing its maritime advances by force in disregard of international law. Japan and the U.S. agreed on a new maritime strategy focusing on such common values as the rule of law and freedom of navigation with this in mind.


This reflects the Abe administration’s efforts so far to advocate a “free and open Indo-Pacific” involving India and Australia. It is very unusual for the U.S. to go along with a diplomatic strategy that Japan has been promoting. This will be effective in blocking China’s efforts to take the lead in building an international order. Japan and the U.S. should appeal for support at the EAS and other international forums.


Differences emerged between the two leaders on economic issues.


Abe advocated multilateral frameworks such as the TPP, but there has been no change in Trump’s posture of prioritizing bilateral negotiations. Before the summit meeting, he said that “the Japanese market is not fair or open,” demanding a reduction in the trade deficit.


It is unlikely for Trump to change his mind suddenly. However, it will not be possible to build a “reciprocal” Japan-U.S. relationship if he promotes U.S. interests alone. Japan needs to persevere in efforts to persuade the U.S. not to embrace protectionism.


China has no intention to change its approach that distorts the market economy. The Japan-U.S. alliance will also play an important role in resisting China’s hegemonic tendencies in the economic realm. (Abridged)

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