Japan-ROK rift means military alliance with US not possible
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.