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‘An unnatural intimacy’

13 2 0
11.06.2019

By the end of this month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump will have held three summit meetings over the course of three consecutive months. Such an intensive top-level exchange is unprecedented in the postwar history of U.S.-Japan summit diplomacy since the 1954 meeting between Shigeru Yoshida and Dwight Eisenhower.

Immediately after assuming office, Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. His administration has since imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Japan on grounds of national security concerns, and while the administration has put on hold imposing heavy tariffs on imports of cars and car parts from Japan while the two countries hold bilateral trade talks, the possibility remains of such tariffs being put in place.

With regard to North Korea, concern lingers that the Trump administration may be willing to strike a deal in which the U.S. agrees to a gradual curtailment of nuclear armament so long as the North agrees to stop its development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Such a deal would veer away from the U.S. position of seeking full denuclearization, and could be seen as effectively accepting North Korea as a nuclear state.

A common thread throughout these episodes is the Trump administration’s logic of the “strong state” in which the administration turns its back on multilateral negotiations in favor of unilateral action or bilateral talks. Trump prefers a deal-oriented approach, in which he treats allies and non-allies alike as targets for pragmatic transactions. The administration appears to care little about the importance of the........

© The Japan Times