After the major parties’ national conventions were done and dusted last week, Donald Trump as the Republican Party nominee has come under fire for saying Asian countries competed unfairly with American businesses and took a free ride on its defence strategy. He may have alienated many in the region, but “The Donald’ is not without Asian fans…
Trump’s claim that the Japan-US security alliance is “unfair” appears to have inspired Japanese YouTube star Yoko Mada (randomyoko), who claims many Japanese feel ashamed at their “lack of contribution”. Yoko – who has 50,000 followers – has written articles on “Trump Senpai” (Mentor Trump), given lectures on how he can make Japan great again and posted videos of “happy moments in life”, such as when she received an official Trump T-shirt and hat.
Then, there is a “Japanese Donald Trump Commercial”, a fan-made video by Mike Diva, a visual effects artist with a following online. The video, in keeping with Japan’s “kawaii” subculture of cute fashion, toys, food and mannerisms, features a schoolgirl transforming into a magical anime character wandering through a pastel-coloured Trump world.
Literally praying for Trump to succeed are the right-wing Indian groups Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Hindu Sena – the latter of which hailed the Republican candidate as the “saviour of humanity” when it held a 70th birthday party for him at the Jantar Mantar monument in New Delhi this summer.
Hindu Sena’s national president, Vishnu Gupta, said Trump’s stand against Islamist terror was “very important to India”, a country “plagued” by the problem. “Only one man can save us all from this epidemic and that is him,” said Gupta.
Trump has sometimes seemed obsessed with the country, and for some Chinese netizens, the feeling is mutual. Among the Weibo groups dedicated to The Donald are “Trump the Great Man from Heaven”, “Donald J Trump Superfans Nation” and “Trump Goes to the White House”. The Global Times reports readers of guancha.cn are also rooting for Trump – because they think he will “mess up the US and allow China to overtake the US as soon as possible”.
No Asian leader has been compared to Trump more often than Rodrigo Duterte. The new Philippines president has a Trump-like penchant for controversy, backing extra-judicial killings and “joking” about the rape and murder of an Australian missionary.
The two may indeed appeal to a similar hunger within their respective countries for tough leaders who say they will cut through convention and overturn the establishment to get things done. However, Duterte and his supporters have brushed aside any such comparisons. “Donald Trump is a bigot, I am not,” he told the Associated Press.
Trump-themed apparel isn’t just for bloggers. Last September Indonesia’s anti-graft body confiscated a Trump hat and ties from Fadli Zon, deputy speaker of Jakarta’s House of Representatives, arguing the items could be regarded as gratuities. The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) made the move following a trip Fadli had made to the US with Setya Novanto, the speaker of Indonesia’s legislature.
The pair came under fire for attending a Trump campaign event in New York in what Indonesian media dubbed “the Trump fiasco”, with critics saying their appearance could be seen as an endorsement by Indonesia’s political establishment. Many in the largely Muslim country have been critical of Trump, citing his Islamophobia. But at a press conference for the New York event, Trump asked Setya, “Do they like me in Indonesia”. The house speaker replied, “Yes, highly”.
Watch: Trump looks ahead
Trump has been criticised at home for suggesting that the US pull its troops from South Korea until Seoul contributes more financially and saying that he’d want to meet North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. Not surprisingly, these same ideas have boosted his approval ratings in North Korea.
A column in DPRK Today said: “It turns out Trump is not the rough-talking, screwy, ignorant candidate they say he is, but is actually a wise politician and a prescient presidential candidate.”