Trump's Single Serving Friend
Trump is over in Asia diplomaticizing away with Shinzo Abe, one of the few world leaders with whom he gets along well. Abe has treated trump to sumo wrestling, Japanese barbeque, and a couple rounds of golf. Abe knows the way to Trump’s heart: entertain him like you would a child. You want to see a show? Make food over fire? Play a game?
Beyond the shared love of golf, however, the two heads of state have much more to bond over. They both like weapons and stuff, for example, and believe Japan should have some. After WWII Japan’s constitution severely limited their military capability, but that looks very likely to change now. Despite Trump’s characteristically unwavering confidence in his ability to strike a deal with Kim Jong Un, a man to whom he spasmodically refers as a ‘great leader’ as well as ‘rocket man’, it seems someone at the White House is trying to hedge their bets. With Russia and China stocking up, having strong Asian allies could prove useful if the art of the deal turns into the finger-painting of petty spats again.
How easy we should feel about Japan arming themselves now is another question. Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party have created a nationalist haven western far-right parties could only dream of, featuring ‘Japanese only’ signs, and foreign children not being granted admission to schools. Which is why in 2014 the New York Times described Abe as a ‘profound threat to American-Japanese relations’. But in 2014 the New York Times didn’t foresee Donald Trump swooping in to save the day. The Liberal Democratic Party, who are liberal in the same way as the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea is democratic, have a pretty colorful history of scandals ranging from the mildly offensive to ‘did they actually just say that?’
Beneath the neon colors, funky game shows, and wildly liberal use of tentacles, Japan has demonstrated a darker side when it comes to admitting guilt for the past. One particular blemish of Japan’s WWII history involves the so-called ‘comfort women’. During the Second World War, the Imperial Japanese Army abducted up to 400,000 women and girls in occupied territories and used them as sex slaves for the troops. Far from apologizing, Abe has denied any wrong-doing by the government and even went so far as to push the teaching of ‘alternative facts’ on the matter in schools. Hopefully, Trump can talk some sense into Abe and finally get him to openly admit sexual crimes.
Abe and Trump are like two peas in a pod and Steve Bannon even referred to Abe as ‘Trump before Trump’ – as a compliment. He has a point, Abe even comes equipped with his very own Steve Bannon. Ayako Sono, right-wing author and advisor to the government who, by own admission, upon learning of apartheid in South Africa became ‘convinced that it is best for races to live apart from each other’. Interesting message to take away from that one.
Fact is, Japan is Schwarzenegger-ing up. This, the 2019th year of the Lord, marks the fifth consecutive year in which Japanese military spending has been increasing significantly. Thanks to President Trump, the US probably won’t have to worry about putting a roof over Hawaii anytime soon, however the combination of a far-right nationalist regime and a neighboring dictator who chucks missiles around like lawn-darts could make for an interesting documentary in the future.