Premier of Japan, Shinzo Abe will become the first leader to meet with American President-elect, Donald Trump. Abeis due in New York on Thursday to meet Trump, whose campaign pledges provoked anxiety over US foreign policy.
Trump will host Abe at his Trump Tower headquarters on Thursday evening. The meeting will be closely watched for hints on long-standing security pacts that he has called into question.
“I’m honoured to meet with President-elect Trump ahead of other world leaders. I’d like to discuss with President Trump our dreams for the future”, Abe told reporters.
“The Japan-US alliance is the cornerstone of Japan’s diplomacy and security. The alliance works only when there is trust.”
“I’d like to build trust with Mr Trump and work together hand in hand for the peace and prosperity of the world.”
Trump had made several comments during the campaign. He particularly said the US might be ‘better off’ with nuclear-armed Asian allies. This has thrown into question the US security umbrella over Japan and South Korea.
Even his later remarks has done little to restore confidence in Washington. The lone superpower remains ready to face down a rising China and a capricious North Korea.
Trump also promised to remove thousands of troops from the region. This is unless Tokyo and Seoul pay more of their hosting costs. It would however present China the opportunity to fulfill its ambitions for regional supremacy.
Meeting To Strengthen Ties
Abe further disclosed that he will discuss with Trump on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump vowed to block the vast TPP free trade deal, which was championed by Abe and President Obama.
“I hope to share the importance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Abe said.
Abe is expected to attend the APEC summit of 21 Pacific Rim economies in Peru, where leaders will defend the tenets of free trade.
The 12-nation TPP has been a key component of Obama’s “pivot to Asia”. It envisaged as a counterweight to China’s expanding economic influence.
Abe told parliament this week that a collapse of the pact could shift momentum toward a rival trade deal promoted by China.
Meanwhile, the Trump camp has made positive noises ahead of the meeting with Abe. This is despite the controversies surrounding the meeting
It “shows Mr Trump’s commitment to the relationship” with Japan, Republican Devin Nunes, a member of the presidential transition team told reporters after talks with an Abe aide in Washington to prepare for the meeting.
Nunes called Japan “one of our most important, longest allies”, Kyodo News reported.
World Leaders Scramble For Trump
Meanwhile, several world leaders have been scrambling to get to the new president since his November 8 election victory. According to the New York Times, offices of foreign leaders were busy dialing in to Trump Tower as they scrambled to get Trump on the phone. This development has prompted a denial and an insistence the transition is proceeding smoothly.
Dozens of leaders including China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin have spoken with Trump by phone since his shock victory.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was only the second to get through. His call was set up by sports legend Greg Norman who is golfing buddies with Trump.