Ja­pan-ROK rift means mil­i­tary al­liance with US not pos­si­ble

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Reviews - The au­thor is China Daily Tokyo bureau chief. cai­hong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ja­pan and the Repub­lic of Korea, both US al­lies, watched closely how the other hosted US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump when he vis­ited the two coun­tries last week. Com­pared with his one-night stay in Seoul, Trump’s three-day visit to Tokyo gave Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe more time to tee off and talk with the US pres­i­dent.

Also, the news that Trump and Abe have reached a con­sen­sus on build­ing a free and fair “Indo-Pa­cific re­gion” made some ROK news­pa­pers spec­u­late whether Seoul’s diplo­matic in­flu­ence was wan­ing.

Days be­fore her fa­ther’s first Asia visit as US pres­i­dent, Ivanka Trump vis­ited Tokyo to ad­dress the World Assem­bly for Women. Abe stood at the doorstep of a restau­rant for 13 min­utes just to give her a treat, and pledged $50 mil­lion to a women’s en­trepreneur­ship fund ini­ti­ated by Ivanka. The ROK me­dia jeered Abe for pay­ing such “obei­sance” to Trump and his daugh­ter.

Dur­ing his visit, Trump ad­dressed Abe by his first name, Shinzo, dis­play­ing a close per­sonal bond be­tween them, which Ja­panese of­fi­cials and me­dia pre­ferred to call the “hon­ey­moon” bond. Through­out Trump’s stay, the two ex­hib­ited their “bro­mance”, heap­ing lav­ish praise upon each other as ex­chang­ing fist-bumps on the fair­way and told the world at their joint press con­fer­ence that Tokyo and Wash­ing­ton “have never been closer”.

The two lead­ers said their coun­tries’ al­liance is “un­shak­able”, al­though Trump made no bones about Ja­pan’s “mas­sive” trade sur­plus, nearly $70 bil­lion last year, and said he was com­mit­ted to es­tab­lish­ing a “fair, free and re­cip­ro­cal” trad­ing re­la­tion­ship with Ja­pan.

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