Abe hopes to secure commitment to bilateral security ties during talks with US president-elect in New York on Thursday
Japans prime minister, Shinzo Abe, will seek reassurances about the USs commitment to his countrys security when he becomes the first foreign leader to fulfill Donald Trump on Thursday.
Japan and South Korea were rattled by commentaries the president-elect made during his campaign, when he hinted at a was withdrawn by American troops from the Asia-Pacific unless the two US friends paid more towards the cost of their security.
Officials in Tokyo and Seoul were also disturbed by Trumps suggestion which he has since denied that the two countries could end decades of dependence on their US nuclear umbrella and develop their own nuclear deterrents.
Either move would redraw the Asia-Pacific security map and usher in a new era of instability, according to a recent report by the Asia Foundation. The report said the was withdrawn by US forces-out, and the subsequent pressure on Japan and South Korea to go nuclear, would trigger massive destabilisation of the regional order.
It added: A precipitous reduction of engagement in Asia would be detrimental to the interests of most Asian countries as well as the United States.
In his congratulatory message last Tuesday, Abe reminded Trump of the importance of the Japan-US security alliance to peace and stability in the region. His message was more fulsome than most, quoting Trumps extraordinary talents as a businessman, and adding: I very much look forward to closely cooperating with you to further strengthen the bond of the Japan-US alliance.
Abe will be looking for evidence of Trumps commitment to bilateral security ties when he meets him in New York on Thursday on his route to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation( Apec) summit in Peru.
As it will be their first direct session, the talks will focus on constructing a relationship of personal trust, told Yoshihide Suga, Japans chief cabinet secretary. Their relationship has get off to a great start. They held telephone talks at an extremely early day, shortly after[ Trump] was elected.
In the working day since his election victory, Trump has shown signs of changing away from hardline commentaries made during his campaign, in which he told Tokyo did not contributed enough to the security offered by the 47,000 US troops based on Japanese clay.
Japan pays virtually 200 bn yen( 1.5 bn) annually in host-nation support, a sum the countrys defence pastor, Tomomi Inada, described as enough.
In a telephone call last week, Trump told Abe he wanted to strengthen the special partnership between Japan and the US. He struck a similar tone in a brief conversation with the embattled South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, telling her he would retain existing security arrangements, which include the presence of 28,500 US troops south of the heavily armed perimeter dividing the Korean peninsula.
But Jeffrey Kingston, the director of Asian studies at Temple University in Tokyo, told nervousnes remained high in Tokyo following Trumps decidedly unreassuring commentaries on security.
Abe will politely try to explain why the alliance is so important and that Trump needs to retreat from some of his assertive rhetoric, Kingston told Reuters.
US state department officials moved quickly to reassure Japan that the bilateral relationship would remain at the heart of Washingtons policy towards the Asia-Pacific, where Chinese military activity in the South China Sea and North Koreas atomic weapon programme has greatly raised tensions.
My message would be one of reassurance to the Japanese people that that relationship is of core foreign policy interest to the United States, Mark Toner, government departments spokesman, told reporters when asked how ties might change under a Trump administration. That relationship is going to remain, regardless of the administration, a cornerstone for the United States.
Japan will have to wait for Trump to take office before it can fully gauge how serious he is about preserving the current security arrangements, according to Tetsuya Otsuru, a senior foreign ministry official.
Trump may take longer than usual to build his administration as he searches for people to fill key policy stances, Otsuru said in a speech in Tokyo. We want to safeguard our confederation with the United States during the transition.
Abe could receive disappointing news on trade, having expended considerable political capital at home with his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership( TPP) free trade pact, now abandoned by the Obama administration.
Many observers believe that Trumps protectionist, America first stance one he is unlikely to revise has in effect brought the 12 -nation trade pact to its knees.
On Monday, Trumps advisers Peter Navarro and Alexander Gray said in a newspaper op-ed piece that he would never again sacrifice the American economy on the altar of foreign policy by entering into bad trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement, allowing China into the World Trade Organisation, and passing the proposed TPP.
Whatever discrepancies they have about trade and security, Trump and Abe will find it easier to establish common ground when it comes to dealing with Vladimir Putin.
Trump has attained no secret of his admiration for the Russian leader, while Abe has been pushing for closer ties with Russia in the run-up to Putins visit to Tokyo next month.
Russia is trying more Japanese investment in its underdeveloped far east region, while Japan is hoping to resolve a long-running disagreement over ownership of the Kuril islands known in Japan as the Northern Territories four islands that belonged to Japan until they were invaded by Soviet forces-out at the end of the second world war.
Read more: www.theguardian.com