In the U.S. midterm elections, President Donald Trump’s Republican Party retained its majority in the Senate, but the opposition Democratic Party took the majority of seats in the House of Representatives.
President Trump’s extreme statements and actions, which seem to incite conflict and division, invited widespread opposition. It is clear that he cannot continue with the approach he has used up to this point of always being confrontational with Congress.
Accepting with sincerity the reality that his party is the minority in the House, President Trump is being called to carefully coordinate with the Democrats to execute policies more than he has in the past.
What needs to be kept in mind is that the Trump administration will probably ramp up diplomatic and security efforts, which Congress will not be able to stop [in its now divided state].
Pressuring North Korea to denuclearize is key
The election, an inward-looking event in which Trump faced off against the Democrats, has ended.
We would like to see Mr. Trump seek results from a broader perspective.
He will probably set to dealing in earnest with China, North Korea, and Russia. This is directly related to the security of U.S. allies. Japan should keep in close communication with the Trump administration and take complementary action in partnership with the United States.
Most important is how to counter China, a nation which has not rectified its unfair trade practices and intellectual property violations and is engaging in maritime expansion with a desire to gain supremacy.
In a speech he gave in October, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence showered harsh criticism on China, citing that nation’s creation of military bases in the South China Sea, its interference in U.S. domestic affairs by influencing American public opinion, and its infrastructure loans that draw recipient countries into a “debt trap.”
The United States and China are already engaged in a “trade war,” having invoked punitive tariffs on each other, and it looks like a U.S. declaration of a “new cold war,” including the area of security. Vice President Pence said that “the President will not back down.”
President Trump plans to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit being held in Argentina from Nov. 30. The contact between the two nations needs to be monitored carefully.
Denuclearization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is also important. Workers’ Party of Korea Chairman Kim Jong Un must have watched the election closely.
In June, President Trump held the first-ever U.S.-DPRK summit meeting. Since that time, the DPRK has not conducted a nuclear weapons test or launched a ballistic missile.
Now that the midterm elections are over, President Trump no longer has a need to particularly emphasize his achievements in this area or the continuation of dialogue.
What is important is to make the DPRK abandon nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. We would like to see President Trump tackle the issue in a bold fashion, including renewing military pressure.
Like China, Russia is an unstable factor that attempts to change the status quo.
President Trump has announced the termination of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the United States signed with the former Soviet Union. A U.S.-Russia summit with President Putin is also planned on the occasion of the G20 Summit.
The self-serving behavior of the Putin administration cannot be tolerated. Russia violated the international order by invading a neighboring country, and, internally, it has cracked down on anti-government forces. We would like to see President Trump take a resolute stance in relation to the Putin administration.
Coordination of strategy with Vice President Pence
Lifting high the “America First” banner, President Trump has turned his back on international coordination, and that stance will not change even after the midterm elections. In the area of trade issues, President Trump will probably attack even his allies of Japan and countries in Europe.
When he confronts China, however, is it best for him to do so alone? Cooperation with allies that share the common values of democracy and the rule of law is needed, and it is Japan’s role to have the President see that.
During his visit to China in late October, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with President Xi and confirmed the two nations will enhance cooperation in a wide range of fields, including the economy and security.
This will include infrastructure development projects in third countries with an eye on the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. Will that not aid Chinese expansionism, which the United States is on the alert against?
Behind China’s rapprochement with Japan is the intensification of China’s confrontation with the United States. Japan must not forget its stance of opposing Chinese hegemony.
Vice President Pence plans to visit Japan in mid-November and meet with Prime Minister Abe. The Trump administration will revise its domestic and foreign policies now that the midterm elections are over, and Japan should reconcile its security policy with the U.S. administration.
There is also the issue of the Japanese nationals who have been abducted by the DPRK. We would like to see Japan and the U.S. further strengthen their alliance so that the two nations proceed in the same direction.
The two leaders will both participate in the two summit meetings being held in Singapore and Papua New Guinea after Vice President Pence’s visit to Japan. We would like to see them make the [upcoming] summit diplomacy, including the G20, into forums where they again develop the Japan-U.S. partnership.