from Asia Unbound

Trump Sticks to the Script, Bolsters U.S. Defense Commitments in Japan and South Korea

November 09, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in hold a news conference at South Korea’s presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, November 7, 2017. Reuters/Jonathan Ernst
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South Korea


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North Korea

During his first visit to Northeast Asia as president, Donald Trump has stayed on script, deepened relationships with his counterparts, and succeeded in communicating the right combination of assurance regarding the United States’ commitment to its allies and resolve in the face of the global threat posed by North Korea. Indicative of the message and tone of the first part of Trump’s five-country Asian tour was the presentation of hats by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Emblazoned with the message “Make the Alliance Even Greater,” the hats were a not-so-subtle jab at the limits of Trump’s “America first” rhetoric when talking to friends and allies. Most notable from Trump’s visits to Japan and South Korea was what did not happen: no counterproductive personal attacks on North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and the fogged-out denial by Mother Nature of a visit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to the demilitarized zone.


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