The greatest outcome of U.S. President Donald Trump’s dramatic visit to Japan, during which he touched on a wide range of topics, is the reconfirmation that “the friendship between Japan and the United States has never been closer” ([White House] statement). The international situation has become very unstable with China’s maritime expansion. It is very significant that Japan and the United States will serve as the core of international security with an eye toward creating a “free and open Indo-Pacific.”
“This is the only port in the world where a U.S. Naval fleet and an Allied Naval fleet are working side by side with each other,” declared President Trump after stepping off the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force escort ship “Kaga,” which was moored off the coast of Yokosuka City, Kanagawa Prefecture. It was an outstanding setting to impress upon those in Japan and abroad the strong framework of the Japan-U.S. alliance.
The “Kaga” soon will be upgraded into in effect a carrier capable of handling F-35B fighters. President Trump added, “The Kaga will help defend against a range of complex threats in the region and far beyond.” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stressed that “we must establish a foundation for regional peace and prosperity.”
During his Japan visit, President Trump also met with the families of Japanese abducted by North Korea, and he indicated he would do everything he can to resolve the issue. At the Japan-U.S. summit, President Trump expressed his intent to support the holding of a Japan-North Korea summit “without preconditions,” as Prime Minister Abe has proposed. High hurdles remain to holding a Japan-North Korea summit, but the coordinated action between Japan and North Korea must have sent a certain message to Chairman Kim Jong Un.
Behind the Abe administration’s putting on this theater-like event, including inviting President Trump as the first state guest in the Reiwa Era, you could glimpse from time to time Japan’s anxiety over how to get the capricious President to direct his attention to Japan.
Many power games in the world, including the fight for hegemony between the United States and China, are not settled overnight. This issue should be considered beyond the time frame of the Trump and Abe administrations.
A world map that builds a network centered on Japan and the United States and formed of countries that share the same values is supported by many of the world’s security professionals. In principle, there should be almost no room for capriciousness in politics. We would like to see a Japan-U.S. alliance built that is unshakable no matter who the leaders are.