Six months after Prime Minister Abe met Donald Trump on the golf course, hoping he would become a pragmatic partner, the Japanese agreed that Tokyo should mitigate the risks of an unpredictable president by forging ties with his more eminent advisors.
The growing controversy over Trump coincides with growing tensions over North Korea’s rapidly evolving missile and nuclear programs. The Koreans recently escalated tensions again by firing a ballistic missile over northern Japan. Trump and his aides sent mixed messages across North Korea. Mattis is at the top of the list of people that Japan relies on, along with National Security Adviser McMaster, Vice President Pence, and globalists like Chief Economic Adviser Gary Cohn.
“Of course, we know that the Trump administration is facing confusion at home, but we cannot let this shake the alliance in the face of current tensions,” said a senior spokesman for Japan’s ruling Liberal Democrats.
Another source adds: “The risk with Trump is that he links economic issues to security. At the moment, China is the victim, but there is no guarantee that Japan will not be among the targets. “
To be sure, Abe has maintained close contact with Trump since his surprise victory, meeting the president four times and talking to him 11 times on the phone. Widespread appeals are an important way to send messages to North Korea that the US-Japan alliance is strong, two former diplomats say. But while Abe did not disagree with Trump publicly, earlier hopes that the billionaire’s rhetoric in his trade and defense campaign was largely for show faded.
As Japan relies unconditionally on the US nuclear umbrella, North Korea’s missile rise has raised concerns about the outcome. The fears are that Washington is unable or unwilling to defend Japan. To allay such fears, a joint Allied statement was issued in which the United States reaffirmed its commitment to defend Japan using the full range of capabilities, including nuclear forces. Japan also secured assurances that Trump would not launch a military conflict against North Korea without consulting Tokyo.
“I think that if the US took any action, it would have consulted with Japan in advance. But I don’t know for sure, ”said the second representative of the LDP.