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Arming Abe to shoot down Kim's missiles

Japan-US summit was held under the sign of the North Korean threat

Arming Abe to shoot down Kim's missiles

Valery Kistanov

Head of the Center for Japanese Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies
The topic of the nuclear missile call from the DPRK prevailed at the talks between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump during the recent visit of the American leader to Japan. During the visit, Trump did not rule out the possibility of military action against North Korea and said that the United States would not succumb to threats from Pyongyang against them or their allies. At a joint press conference with the Japanese prime minister, the American president proposed that the United States arm Japan just as they did with their allies in the Middle East, such as Saudi Arabia. Earlier on Twitter, he expressed his disappointment that Japan, with its samurai spirit, did not hit the ballistic missiles that North Korea recently launched through its territory.

At a press conference, Trump said about Abe: "He will knock them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of a large amount of additional military equipment from the United States." True, Japanese commentators immediately noticed that, in accordance with its peaceful constitution, Japan could shoot down foreign missiles only when they were aimed at Japan itself, or if their debris fell on its territory. Although some determined members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party still admit the possibility that Japan, as an ally of the United States, will shoot down missiles aimed at the island of Guam, where the American major air force base is located.

It is noteworthy that being in the Japanese capital within the reach of North Korean missiles, Trump unprecedentedly inflated his hostile rhetoric at the DPRK. He called Pyongyang "a threat to the civilized world" and, justifying his expressions, said: "Some say that my rhetoric is very strong, but look at what has happened to weak rhetoric over the past 25 years."

For his part, Abe took a much tougher stand against North Korea than his predecessors as prime minister of Japan. He repeatedly spoke in support of Trump's statement that when dealing with Pyongyang, the US holds "all options on the table." In early November, Abe announced new sanctions against several dozen official representatives of the DPRK. According to the Japan Times, Japan is already seeking funds to purchase from the United States interceptor missiles SM3, which have greater accuracy and range, as well as other advanced missile defense systems.

The newspaper believes that Trump and Abe established a personal friendship relationship, which was further strengthened during meetings, telephone conversations and in the process of playing golf. During the game, the two leaders frankly discussed the pressing issues of international life and Japanese-American relations. At the final banquet Abe called Trump "dear friend" and praised the results of what he called "golf diplomacy."

Apparently, not without a back thought, to reinforce the image of the “evil and cruel North Korean regime” Trump, accompanied by his wife Melanie, met with representatives of Japanese families, whose members were abducted by North Korean special services in the 70-80 of the last century to teach the Japanese language its spies. During this touching scene, the whole country, where the solution to the “problem of abducted compatriots” acquired the character of a nationwide idea, watched with bated breath. Trump publicly promised to work on the return of the abductees to their families and said that "this is a very, very sad series of stories we have heard about."

In general, Japan gave Trump a warm welcome, starting with a solemn meeting with a guard of honor and ending with an audience in the imperial palace of Emperor Akihito and his wife, Empress Michiko. Part of the pathetic performance was the traditional Japanese feeding by two leaders of ornamental carps in a pond in the center of Tokyo. True, there the action went on an unplanned scenario. Unlike Abe, who, in accordance with the Japanese tradition, fed fish with a spoon in small portions, the impatient Trump immediately poured into the water the entire box with fish treats.

At the same time, serious differences between Japan and the United States on a number of issues cast a shadow over Abe and Trump's exalted men's friendship. Trump bluntly declared to his Japanese counterpart that Japan has for decades defeated in bilateral relations, and called trade deals with it "unfair and undiscovered." Speaking to the leaders of the Japanese and American business circles, he promised to reformat the Japanese-American trade, but did not specify how he would reduce the huge deficit in trade with Japan, which last year amounted to about 70 billion dollars.

The apple of discord between Japan and the United States remains the fate of the projected Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) - a powerful trading bloc of 12 countries in the region. Japan relies on it as a means of bringing the country's economy out of a prolonged period of economic difficulties, but the departure by Trump's decision of the United States from the said partnership has called into question its very existence. Trump believes that free trade within the framework of multilateral agreements does not meet US interests, and intends to build economic relations with their Asian partners on a bilateral basis.

Tokyo fears that in such a format, Washington will have much more opportunities to wring out Japan's hands at trade negotiations. In order not to cloud his friendships with prosaic problems, the leaders of Japan and the US agreed to lower the "unpleasant work" for their deputies - Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and Vice President Mike Pens, who will conduct complex trade negotiations. In the meantime, Tokyo hopes to complete the creation and lead the TTP without US participation.

Trump's proposal to buy more American weapons was obviously intended not only to secure Japan from the "hostile and unpredictable" regime of Kim Jong-no, but also to reduce the US's huge deficit in trade with its main military-political ally in Asia. Although Abe was positive about the proposal of his American friend, saying that Japan should strengthen its Self-Defense Forces in a quantitative and qualitative way, the Japanese government was shocked by Trump's suggestion, as the military budget of the country is already experiencing a strong financial voltage. Trump himself is delighted with his own proposal. 7 November in his tweet appeared a record of this content: "My visit to Japan and friendship with Prime Minister Abe will bring many benefits to our great Country. Massive military and energy orders are already coming +++! "(Quoted by Mainichi Shimbun, 08.11.2107).

However, at a press conference on the same day, Secretary-General of the Cabinet Yoshihide Suga somewhat cooled the vein of the American leader, saying: “Armaments for the Self-Defense Forces are acquired systematically on the basis of the Guiding Principles of the National Defense Program and the Medium-Term Defense Program, including weapons manufactured in the USA” . Although, as the mentioned newspaper writes, during the administration of Shinzo Abe, purchases of military equipment from the United States are already growing at a space pace.

However, the proposed acquisition of the latest US missile defense systems in order to protect Japan from North Korean missiles will be useless against North Korean refugees who may rush into Japan in the event of the collapse of the Kim Jong-un regime. There are fears in the country that among them there may be terrorists who try to sabotage Japanese nuclear power plants. The sad consequences of the accident at the Fukushima-1 NPP that occurred in March of the 2011 year are still not completely eliminated.
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