US President Donald Trump is known for routinely exceeding his brief, adding improvisations to his prepared speech that normally land his team in trouble and this time it has come from Japan which is Trump’s first strop during his 12-day five nation Asian tour. The other countries on Trump’s itinerary are China, Vietnam, South Korea and The Philippines.
Trump was addressing a news conference in Tokyo today and everything was going fine till he was reading from his prepared speech. But the moment he took a detour, it all came crashing down when Trump spoke something that not only stunned the members of his delegation but also humiliated his host, the Japanese.
While the prepared speech of Trump was praising Japan’s economy, his impromptu addition took a different track which not only showed Japan’s economy in poor light but also humiliated the country’s pride dragging in undue comparison between Japan’s and US’ economies.
“I don’t know if Japan’s economy is as good as ours. I think not. OK? We’re going to try to keep it that way. And you’ll be second,” an MSNBC report* quoted Trump saying. Certainly not a diplomatic finesse, especially when the host country is a major global power, your friend and an important ally.
Trump’s impromptu addition to his speech reiterated another of Trump’s characteristics, that he doesn’t care for facts while speaking out his mind. He said Japanese economy can only be second to the US economy while the fact is China overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy in 2011 and will be bigger than even the US economy well before 2030, a study* by PricewaterhouseCoopers says. Even India’s economy will overtake the US economy by 2050.
Trump did not stop at it. He also lectured Japan to remilitarise, procure weapons from the US and shoot down North Korean missiles. In spite of sanctions, North Korea has developed the inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) threatening to hit the US mainland. The rogue nation facing tough UN Security Council and global sanctions has also detonated a hydrogen bomb and has declared itself a nuclear power. It recently fired two missiles over Japan.
“Abe will shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of lots of additional military equipment from the United States. 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 said* after his summit with Abe.
And then Trump came to his favourite, America’s trade imbalance with countries like China, Japan and Germany. These three countries account for $483 billion of the trade deficit the US has with the top slot goes to China with which the US has a trade deficit of $349 billion followed by Japan ($69 billion) and German ($65 billion).
While addressing the business community, Trump declared Japan had not reciprocated in the same way as the US did when it came to trade ties but now Trump was working on to correct it*, “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 and we’ve started the process.” An ingenious way that Trump suggested the Japanese to lower the trade deficit burden the US had was to buy more and more military hardware from the US.
He also committed another factual blunder. He asked the Japanese carmakers to come to the US to manufacture and sell their cars instead of exporting them*, “Try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over. Is that possible to ask? That’s not rude. Is that rude? I don’t think so” while the fact is 75 per cent of Japanese cars or three out of four sold in America are built in North America.