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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 challenge from the DPRK prevailed at the talks between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump during the American leader's just past visit to Japan. During the visit, Trump did not rule out the possibility of military action against the DPRK and said that the United States would not succumb to threats from Pyongyang against them or their allies. In a joint press conference with the Japanese prime minister, the American president proposed that the United States arm Japan in the same way it has done for its Middle East allies such as Saudi Arabia. Earlier on Twitter, he expressed his disappointment that Japan, with its samurai spirit, did not shoot down ballistic missiles that North Korea recently launched through its territory.

At the press conference, Trump said of Abe: "He will knock them out of the sky when he completes the acquisition 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 can shoot down foreign missiles only when they are aimed at Japan itself, or if their debris falls 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 large air base is located.

It is noteworthy that, while in the Japanese capital within the reach of North Korean missiles, Trump has unprecedentedly inflated his hostile rhetoric against 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 what has happened to the weak rhetoric over the past 25 years."

For his part, Abe has taken a much tougher stance on North Korea than his predecessors as Japanese prime minister. He has repeatedly spoken in support of Trump's claim that in dealing with Pyongyang, the United States has "all options on the table." In early November, Abe announced new sanctions against several dozen DPRK officials. According to the Japan Times, Japan is already seeking funds from the United States to acquire the SM3 interceptor missiles, which have greater accuracy and range, and other advanced missile defense systems.

The newspaper believes that Trump and Abe have developed a relationship of personal friendship, which has been further strengthened through meetings, phone calls and golf. During the game, the two leaders frankly discussed pressing issues of international life and Japanese-American relations. At the closing banquet, Abe called Trump a "dear friend" and praised the results of what he called "golf diplomacy."

Apparently, not without a second thought to strengthen the image of the "evil and cruel North Korean regime", Trump, accompanied by his wife Melania, met with representatives of Japanese families whose members were abducted by the DPRK special services in the 70s and 80s of the last century to teach Japanese to her spies. The whole country, where the solution to the “problem of kidnapped compatriots” acquired the character of a national idea, was watching this touching scene with bated breath. Trump publicly pledged to work on bringing the abductees back to their families and said that "this is a very, very sad set of stories that we have heard about."

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

At the same time, serious disagreements between Japan and the United States over a number of issues cast a shadow on their male friendship, which Abe and Trump extolled. Trump bluntly told his Japanese counterpart that Japan had been winning in bilateral relations for decades, and called trade deals with it "dishonest and undiscovered." Speaking to Japanese and American business leaders, he pledged to reformat Japanese-American trade, but did not elaborate on how he would reduce the huge trade deficit with Japan, which last year totaled roughly $ 70 billion.

The bone of contention between Japan and the United States remains the fate of the projected Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a powerful trading bloc of 12 countries in the region. Japan is betting on it as a means of lifting the country's economy out of a protracted period of economic difficulties, but the withdrawal of the United States from the partnership by Trump's decision has called its very existence into question. Trump believes that free trade within the framework of multilateral agreements is not in the interests of the United States, and intends to build economic relations with its Asian partners on a bilateral basis.

Tokyo strongly fears that in this format, Washington will have much more opportunity to twist Japan's arms in trade negotiations. In order not to darken their friendship with prosaic problems, the leaders of Japan and the United States agreed to let the "unpleasant work" on their deputies - Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and Vice President Mike Pence, who will have to conduct difficult trade negotiations. Meanwhile, Tokyo hopes to complete and lead the TPP without US involvement.

The very same Trump's proposal to buy more American weapons, obviously, had the goal not only to protect Japan from the "hostile and unpredictable" regime of Kim Jong-un, but also to reduce the huge US deficit in trade with its main military-political ally in Asia. And although in public Abe reacted positively to his American friend's proposal, saying that Japan should quantitatively and qualitatively strengthen its Self-Defense Forces, the Japanese government, according to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, was shocked by Trump's proposal, since the country's military budget is already experiencing strong financial voltage. Trump himself is delighted with his own proposal. On November 7, his tweet appeared with the following 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 underway +++! " (Quoted from Mainichi Shimbun, 08.11.2107/XNUMX/XNUMX).

True, at a press conference on the same day, Cabinet General Secretary Yoshihide Suga somewhat chilled the ardor 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 Medium Term Defense Program, including weapons produced in the United States." ... Although, as the aforementioned newspaper writes, under the Shinzo Abe administration, purchases of military equipment from the United States are already growing at a cosmic pace.

However, the alleged acquisitions of the latest American missile defense systems in order to protect Japan from North Korean missiles will be useless against North Korean refugees who could pour 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 will try to arrange sabotage at Japanese nuclear power plants. The tragic consequences of the accident at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, which occurred in March 2011, have not yet been completely eliminated.
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