Trump: ‘samurai’ Japan will shoot down North Korean missiles after buying new weapons from US
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will “shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment”, US president declared
US President Donald Trump on Monday said “samurai” Japan will soon have the capability to shoot down North Korean weapons, once it has bought “massive amounts of military equipment” from Washington. Standing next to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump promised to work in solidarity with Japan to confront “the North Korean menace”.
At an afternoon news conference with Abe in Tokyo, Trump declared, “the era of strategic patience is over”, and promised to counter “the dangerous aggressions” of the country led by Kim Jong-un, who the president has repeatedly called “Rocket Man”.
“The regime continues development of its unlawful weapons programmes, including its illegal nuclear tests and outrageous launches of ballistic missiles directly overly Japanese territory,” Trump said. “We will not stand for that.”
In his own remarks, Abe affirmed Trump’s stance, saying Japan supports the president’s previous comments that “all options are on the table” and similarly favours an approach of increasing pressure on North Korea rather than continuing dialogue with the nation.
Responding to a question – directed at Abe – about news reports that Trump had previously suggested to the Japanese prime minister that the “samurai” nation should have simply shot down the North Korean missiles that flew over it before crashing into the Pacific Ocean earlier this year, the president answered instead on Abe’s behalf.
“He will shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment from the United States,” Trump said. “The prime minister is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should. And we make the best military equipment by far.”
Trump’s remarks came during his second full day in Japan – the first stop on a five-country, 12-day tour of Asia – and follows a series of events and meetings designed to underscore the close personal relationship between the two leaders.
“Indeed, how many hours of dialogue did we have?” Abe asked at one point, recalling their friendship that dates back to the prime minister’s trip to Trump Tower before Trump had even been sworn in. But despite the warm remarks on both sides, Trump took a hard-line on trade earlier in the day on Monday, scolding Japan for the “massive trade deficits” between the nations.
“For the last many decades, Japan has been winning, you do know that,” Trump told a gathering of business leaders here. “We want fair and open trade, but right now our trade with Japan is not fair and it’s not open. But I know it will be, soon. We want free and reciprocal trade, but right now our trade with Japan is not free and it’s not reciprocal, and I know it will be.”
At the news conference, Trump largely avoided a question about whether his tough stance on trade puts him on a collision course with China. But he did say the US was facing a “very unfair trade situation” with China, which he visits this week, and reiterated his belief that “reciprocal” trade between the US and any nation is his preference.
Trump, who still has more than a week left on his trip through the region and appeared in high spirits when he first arrived in Japan, seemed to have wilted by the time he stepped behind his lectern on Monday afternoon. He spoke in a largely flat monotone, and leaned on the lectern at points.
The Washington Post, Reuters, The Guardian