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Editorial: Japan-U.S. ties should not be affected by presidential election

One year remains until election day for the 2020 U.S. presidential race. President Donald Trump has caused many a stir during his presidency, and whether he will be reelected or not is an important issue of interest not only to the international community but also to Japan, a U.S. ally. But it is pointless for the relationship to fluctuate radically based on the outlook for the presidential campaign. It is more important to deepen the alliance between the two countries so that ties are strong no matter who wins the election.


President Trump has repeatedly made extreme statements since his campaign for the last presidential election, and over the past almost three years he has disrupted the international order more than imagined. 


As symbolized by the ongoing U.S.-China trade war and the U.S. withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the disdain the President has shown for frameworks for international coordination has caused turmoil in the global economy.


We cannot avoid having the impression that the President has responded to the North Korea and Middle East situations in an ad hoc manner. The U.S. leader advocates an America First policy, but we wonder if many of his judgments actually undermine U.S. national interests.


Our intent here, however, is not to criticize President Trump. Judgments that have been made by the current administration to date are a mix of the President’s personal assertions, policies that have long been called for by the Republican Party, and traditional governing principles in the U.S. Other U.S. presidents would probably have made the same decisions on some of issues.


The former Obama administration also had U.S. special forces raid an area where the leader of an international terrorist organization was suspected to be. Major tax cuts for corporations have been a long-standing goal of the Republican Party.


Even if President Trump is not reelected in the next presidential election, that does not mean that everything will be rosy. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a front-runner in the race to determine the Democratic Party candidate in the presidential election, is calling for a tax increase for the wealthy, but some are concerned that such a tax hike will drag down the U.S. economy and in turn the global economy.


In short, we should realize there will never be a U.S. president who is ideal for Japan. Japan relies on the U.S. military for security, so it is impossible for Tokyo to keep a distance from Washington. Even if someone unfriendly to Japan were to become the U.S. president, Japan would have no choice but to find a way to get along with that person.


Instead of focusing on who will win the next presidential election, it is more important to understand the changes in U.S. society that resulted in the election of such a unique president. Changes include the growing economic disparities and racial frictions triggered by the rising number of immigrants. Such circumstances will continue irrespective of whether Mr. Trump is reelected or not.


Within the Liberal Democratic Party, it is said that “the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games will pave the way for a happy end to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s career.” At the same time, other lawmakers say that the Prime Minister should decide whether to step down or not after finding out whether President Trump is reelected that November. The next U.S. presidential election will have a significant impact on Japan’s political situation.

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