All national papers reported extensively that during a press conference before departing Osaka for Seoul on Saturday afternoon, President Trump openly voiced his dissatisfaction with the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty because it does not obligate Japan to defend the U.S. He called it “unfair,” disclosing that he has complained about it to Prime Minister Abe and asked him to change it. However, the President dismissed the possibility of withdrawing from the treaty by saying, “I’m not thinking about that at all.”
Reporting on Japan’s reaction to the President’s comment, the dailies took up a press briefing by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Nogami, who emphasized that no defense-related topics, including the security treaty, were discussed at the latest meeting between the two leaders. GOJ officials reportedly viewed the President’s remarks as campaign rhetoric apparently aimed at pressuring Tokyo to make major concessions in the ongoing trade talks. Asahi predicted that the U.S. leader will probably make similar remarks after Japan’s Upper House election in late July to swiftly conclude a trade deal and also in preparation for the planned start next year of bilateral talks on Japan’s host nation support for the U.S. military.
Mainichi said Japan has apparently become an “ideal target” for President Trump, claiming that he is extremely anxious to play up his image of being a “leader determined to fight against foreign countries that have taken advantage of the U.S. for decades.” The daily said the Abe administration was perplexed by the President’s remarks, adding that it will continue to explain Japan’s efforts to increase its defense contributions. The paper also wrote that although other USG officials, including National Security Advisor Bolton, do not necessarily share the President’s view, the fact that the top U.S. leader has repeatedly complained about the security treaty may over time erode the foundation of the trans-Pacific alliance, which the daily stressed has greatly contributed to regional stability since WWII.
Yomiuri wrote that the GOJ plans to confirm with the USG that Japan has been paying its fair share for maintaining the bilateral alliance in the belief that the two nations’ burdens are “largely balanced.” An unnamed high-ranking GOJ official said to the daily that President Trump has never told Prime Minister Abe that the security treaty is unfair.