The Japan Times has an interesting article discussing the recent comments made by Donald Trump about Japan taking advantage of trade with the United States:
The prime minister is planning a hastily arranged trip to Washington next month after two surprise announcements by the U.S. president: That he’d meet their mutual adversary Kim Jong Un, and levy tariffs on Japanese steel and aluminum. The moves could shake the pillars of trade and security that underpin a 70-year-old alliance Abe was counting on to buttress against a rising China.
“The effect of a personal relationship is very uncertain,” said Akihisa Nagashima, a former vice defense minister who is a lawmaker with Japan’s opposition Kibo no To (Party of Hope). “This may even have been unrequited love.”
Abe’s U.S. trip bears parallels with his swift Trump Tower visit days after the 2016 U.S. election, presenting Trump with a $3,800 golf club and hailing him as a “very successful businessman with extraordinary talents.” The efforts appeared successful, as Trump reaffirmed the security alliance and shelved campaign threats to curb Japanese car imports, even as he later withdrew from a Pacific trade pact championed by Abe.
Fumio Kishida, Abe’s former foreign minister, said in a Wednesday interview in Hong Kong that the two leaders established a mutual trust. Other foreign leaders, including France’s President Emmanuel Macron and China’s President Xi Jinping, attempted similar charm offensives, with varied results.
As Trump has fired advisor after advisor, cabinet secretary after cabinet secretary, he has been increasingly surrounding himself with people who think like he does or worse. Trump is creating an echo chamber in the White House rather than a culture where his thoughts and ideas are challenged in an attempt to enact well thought out plans.
Considering all these circumstances, Abe-san is going to have a tough time charming Trump this time around.
So-called “cleared advisors” like me are prohibited from sharing publicly the criticisms we’ve lodged about specific proposals and approaches. The government has created a perfect Catch 22: The law prohibits us from talking about the specifics of what we’ve seen, allowing the president to criticize us for not being specific. Instead of simply admitting that he disagrees with me—and with many other cleared advisors—about the merits of the TPP, the president instead pretends that our specific, pointed criticisms don’t exist.
What I can tell you is that the administration is being unfair to those who are raising proper questions about the harms the TPP would do. To the administration, everyone who questions their approach is branded as a protectionist—or worse—dishonest. They broadly criticize organized labor, despite the fact that unions have been the primary force in America pushing for strong rules to promote opportunity and jobs. And they dismiss individuals like me who believe that, first and foremost, a trade agreement should promote the interests of domestic producers and their employees.