With 24 hours to go, it was still unclear when or where President-elect Donald Trump would meet the Japanese Prime Minister, beyond that it would be in New York. Shinzo Abe‘s team had not been told who was invited, or in some cases who they should speak to for answers.
“There has been a lot of confusion,” one Japanese official said. To be fair, it has all been quite last minute – the meeting was only suggested last week. Mr Abe was on his way to an Asia-Pacific summit
Mr. Abe was on his way to an Asia-Pacific summit in Peru and would divert via the US for what would be the President-elect’s first sit-down with a foreign leader since his victory.
During the campaign, Mr. Trump prided himself on not being a conventional politician and refusing to play by the traditional Washington rules.
Now he appears to be bringing that approach to global statesmanship. The US State Department, which would normally
The US State Department, which would normally be involved in planning the logistics and protocol details for a meeting with a foreign head of state, said it had not been consulted. Spokesman John Kirby said that to the best of his
Spokesman John Kirby said that to the best of his knowledge the President-elect’s transition team had not contacted them or sought information ahead of the meeting.
That’s a lot of expertise not to tap. And there are important issues at stake. The US is Japan’s most important ally, and legally
The US is Japan’s most important ally, and legally bound to defend it in the event of an attack. Some 47,000 US troops are currently stationed there. It’s not an abstract threat.
One of North Korea’s latest missile tests landed in Japanese territorial waters. Kim Jong-Un’s regime has conducted two nuclear tests so far this year.
Tensions in the region are rising, with an increasingly assertive China engaged in territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas. So Mr. Abe will want reassurance from Mr. Trump that he remains firmly committed to their military alliance, and that his pre-election threats to withdraw US troops unless Tokyo paid more towards them, were just tub-thumping campaign rhetoric, not a concrete proposal.
Similarly, he will want to clarify that the suggestion Japan and South Korea should consider developing their own nuclear deterrent was not a serious idea.
Chinese officials in Beijing will be equally interested in the answers. Whilst they might be cheered by the prospect of
Whilst they might be cheered by the prospect of the US playing less of a role in the Asia-Pacific, the last thing they want is a regional arms race.
The Japanese PM will likely also want to talk trade.
Mr. Abe has invested a lot of political capital at home preparing to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an Obama administration trade deal, and has been one of its most enthusiastic proponents. Mr Trump, on the other hand, has called the TPP a
Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has called the TPP a “death blow to American manufacturing” and repeatedly promised to scrap it. So there is plenty to talk about and complex
geopolitical issues with far-reaching consequences to navigate. If only they can find a meeting room.