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Why Trump could be good for Japan

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With Hillary Clinton's decisive victory over Bernie Sanders in California, the contest in November's U.S. presidential election is all but decided. Barring some last minute madness at either of the conventions, it looks to be Trump vs Clinton. Hardly anyone would have imagined such a match-up one year ago, yet here we are. The most recent polls show Clinton with a commanding lead, possibly due to Trump's crass response to the Orlando nightclub shooting. However, if the last year has taught us anything, it is that writing off Trump too early is a mistake.

To be clear, I am not a Trump supporter. The point of this piece is not to argue that a Trump victory would be good for America, but rather that it could have some positive side effects for Japan. A vote for Clinton is, in many ways, a vote for the status quo. If you like the way things have been going under Barack Obama and you want more of the same, then she is your candidate. There is certainly a compelling argument for such a vote.

By contrast, Trump is basically a wild card; no one really has any idea what he will do once in office, probably not even Trump himself. His election would force both major parties to re-evaluate their identities. A large percentage of his supporters want him to win simply because they are sick of the Washington establishment and just want to throw a monkey wrench into the current political machine for better or for worse.

And herein lies the opportunity for Japan. Trump is essentially a reset button for Japanese-American relations. Clinton likely has not one new thought or concern about Japan. Trump, however, given his comments on trade and foreign policy, clearly sees everything as negotiable. As far as Japan and America's relationship goes, nothing is off the table.

Consider Trump's economic populism. If he fights the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and seeks to renegotiate trade terms, it may force Japan to re-evaluate some of its protectionist policies. That could lead to a boon for Japanese consumers. Recall that this year marked the first foreign acquisition of a major Japanese electronics company when Sharp was bought buy Hon Hai, a Taiwanese company.

Whether Trump's efforts lead to more protection of Japanese industry or more free trade, either path will shake up corporate earnings and hiring across a number of industries. Depending on how good of a deal-maker Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is, a new arrangement could help Japan get out of its chronic economic doldrums.

But Trump's economic views are not the biggest potential avenue for change in Japan. Trump has publicly criticized the Japan-American security treaty. He even suggested that Japan should have nuclear weapons. Trump's “America First” vision clearly suggests a belief that Japan ought to do more for itself. He sees Japan as a wealthy country taking advantage of America's good will. As a businessman, he wants to renegotiate a better deal that takes some of the weight off of America and puts it back onto Japan.

This could lead to a massive political transformation in Japan. It would be the first time that an American president has strongly pushed for a more independent Japan. It could be just the push needed by Abe and his party to get traction on changing the constitution to re-establish Japan's military sovereignty. It could also lead to a powerful backlash that emboldens Abe's opposition and ends up helping to preserve the constitution as is.

In other words, Japan may have to fish or cut bait. Either fight Trump to keep America as Japan's protector, or go along with it and move toward a more militarily self-reliant identity. It is a debate worth having – one that could help galvanize an electorate with consistently low voter turnout. In a society where the young in particular are often disengaged from the political process, such a debate could help get people to pay attention.

As homogeneous as Japanese culture may seem, there is real division on a number of political and social issues. There is the anti-war faction that wishes above all to prevent Japan from becoming militaristic again. There are the globalists and progressives who wish to see Japan adopt more Western cultural ideas – more worker protections, gender equality, same-sex marriage, diversity, etc. Then on the other side are nationalists and conservatives. The latter want to “keep Japan Japanese,” and preserve the culture, while the former believe Japan needs to rebuild its military might to claim a larger role on the world stage. Finally, somewhere in the middle, are all the moderates, independents, and libertarian types. They represent a wide range of viewpoints on all different issues.

Though the future of Japan will not belong to any one political faction, the cultural shakeup a Trump presidency might instigate could rearrange the balance of power. There is a lot of uncertainty in such change, and Japan's status quo is pretty great compared to a lot of countries around the world. I respect the view that a Clinton presidency that leaves well enough alone may be the better bet. Nevertheless for those who wish for change Trump could be just the thing to help make Japan great again.

© Japan Today

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20 Comments
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Trump, however, given his comments on trade and foreign policy, clearly sees everything as negotiable. As far as Japan and America’s relationship goes, nothing is off the table.

And what we see when Trump puts everything up for negotiation is that whatever he ends up agreeing to build will fall apart and someone else will foot the bill.

Sorry, a Trump presidency would be just as disastrous for Japan as it would be for the US.

1 ( +10 / -9 )

Despite Clinton's support for the TPP (even though she temporarily dropped her public support during her campaign) does not matter. It is still wildly unpopular with the electorate of both parties, and most likely will not pass. A Trump presidency will not be good for anyone, in any country. Although, Vladimir Putin and Kim Il Jun seem to like him.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

If nothing else, a Trump presidency would be wildly entertaining. Hillary represents all that is wrong with politics in general- trading on her name for otherwise unearned status, being firmly in the pocket of financial interests, and having her lips firmly welded to the public teat.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

If nothing else, a Trump presidency would be wildly entertaining.

Yeah, just like it's funny to live in a house with an abuse father! A barrel of laughs for everyone.

-2 ( +6 / -8 )

Yeah, look at how Trump's children have turned out, eh? What a pathetic bunch..... please, enough of the hysteria Strangerland. The simple fact is that Presidents actually don't have that much power anyway.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The writer ought to realise that using incorrect grammar such as "how good of a deal-maker" makes him sound less than totally literate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And herein lies the opportunity for Japan. Trump is essentially a reset button for Japanese-American relations. Clinton likely has not one new thought or concern about Japan. Trump, however, given his comments on trade and foreign policy, clearly sees everything as negotiable. As far as Japan and America’s relationship goes, nothing is off the table.

If this is the writer's best argument, it's a terrible one. Trump has to be the "winner" in any negotiation and trying to get concessions from him would be near impossible for Japan.

Let's be honest, Jon; Trump would be terrible for Japan and just about every country in the world.

By contrast, Trump is basically a wild card; no one really has any idea what he will do once in office, probably not even Trump himself.

Although you seem to note the largest problem with having Trump as president already.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

We need Trump's new sense of vision.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

Trump is clueless about the financial contribution Japan makes in the relationship, so he is very much like the average American.The US cannot afford to be in Japan without Japanese financial support.

As far as fishing or cutting bait, I think it's the other way around.

Japanese companies built factories in the US and employ millions of Americans.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

Trump needs to be told how the Constitution works. He's old -- as old as John McCain was in 2008 -- and clueless. He's a serial liar, and is only pretending to be a Republican because it will get him where he thinks he wants to be. He's a self-aggrandizer. I actually respect that in a businessman, since Steve Jobs also did it very well, but in a world leader who must balance the needs of the entire nation? Hell no. Every possible moral failing we can hope to avoid in our leaders -- adultery, being abusive of women and minorities -- is found in Trump in spades.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

i like keep japan, japan i dont want it be influenced by other countries

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Trump represents the best chance for change in US politics in more than a generation. He promises to roll back the empire, stop the aggression in Eastern Europe by ex-Nazis and all manner of CIA-trained warmongers. In Syria, he would withdraw support for the State Department's (Hillary's) mercenary jihadi head-choppers who have been killing civilian men, women and children in the region for years. Trump also represents a candidate who knows that the American people live better when the focus is on productivity instead of illegal wars of aggression, secret coups d'etat, drug-running warlords backed up by Marines in Afghanistan and the same old gai-atsu foreign pressure on other countries that Japan has suffered for generations from Clinton-style corrupt insider presidents.

From the comments above I am surprised how many people seem to like the idea of Washington's mass murder and oppression around the globe... I thought the foreign community in Japan was better educated and more civilized. Evidently not.

Trump is far from perfect, but he is more interested in the things that world once respected in America than Hillary the assassin could ever be... remember "We came, we saw, he died!"? if not, watch it again... there has never been a more dangerous presidential candidate than this woman... Those who claim to oppose Trump oppose him over the possibility that he might do what HITLERY has already done... make endless war...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmIRYvJQeHM

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

"With Hillary Clinton’s decisive victory over Bernie Sanders in California,"

That's being contested, apparently a whole lotta Sanders votes weren't counted.

"Trump could be just the thing to help make Japan great again."

Har!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Trump isn't politically correct, but he isn't a Clinton influence peddler. The Clintons would sell everyone's freedom for a Saudi dollar. She has accomplished nothing except to destabilize Egypt, Libya and Syria and cause mass chaos. They refused to pay her foundation the protection money she demanded.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The opinion stated above by the author does touch some of the most important role that Trump has and is playing in the international arena for the USA and for every nation in the world. He is basically stating that every nation must work together "fairly" and "take responsibility" for its own safety and security as with everything else.

In other words, within one's country some form of socialism may be OK but international socialism is not workable. One country and its people cannot be "dependent" on another without fair "participation" and "taking of responsibility" which may be to pay for the external "services" provided by the other country as is done in any business.

In effect, his rhetoric directly and indirectly puts all nations including the UN which basically "feeds" off of wealthier nations to subsidize much too many countries with irresponsible governments that siphon the aid without benefiting their people or misuse the funds. Such is the status of Euro nations and even NATO.

The key idea his rhetoric always point to is "take responsibility" and "do and work" by and for yourself with "fair" relationship with others. That is probably the reason why when he is attacked, he fights back twice as hard. If it was not for the very abrasive treatment first by other Republican candidates and by Clinton and the Democratic party during the primaries, he would not be as abrasive.

Also, if you were to review all of his political rhetoric he sounds harsh usually "after" a personal and abrasive attack on him. In almost all his rhetoric, he has only pointed out somewhat very pointedly the problems and errors of the other candidates as they related to public policies such as Border Security and Immigration. And by that process much of the needed relevant and pertinent "issues" were brought out for debate.

He did not deal with the "what if's" usually used in campaigns but with "this is the situation" and "this is the kind of answers and solutions" he want to or will have. And that is a totally different approach to traditional political campaigning which stumped other candidates and even the political pundits and definitely the media.

By using a simple slogan "Make America Great Again" which summarized his entire campaign theme, and because of his direct, open and honest style, he has awakened the American public to participate in the political process. And because of the same reasons, he has awakened the world to look and consider twice and three times about the elections. Now every nation in the world must recognize that it is truly independent and must take responsibility for themselves.

Sadly because of terrorism that has also extended to religions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Spare us, please...Trump is NO GOOD for any country.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A large percentage of his supporters want him to win simply because they are sick of the Washington establishment and just want to throw a monkey wrench into the current political machine for better or for worse.

It can't get any worse. With all this pc crap and "tolerance" . . . what's to become of us? But hey. . . don't blame me. I didn't vote for "change."

It would be the first time that an American president has strongly pushed for a more independent Japan. It could be just the push needed by Abe and his party to get traction on changing the constitution to re-establish Japan’s military sovereignty.

This is what needs to happen. Okinawa would be happy. And for the rest of Japan, no more hiding behind the US flag and being a US protectorate.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Hillary is an awful human being that is responsible for many terrible things, Trump is a bit unstable. The future for my country seems to be very iffy at best. In any event - I hope our relationship with Japan can improve. I'd love if EVERYONE could get along really.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sorry, a Trump presidency would be just as disastrous for Japan as it would be for the US.

Because in the States he would get people back to work and off the couch and push Japan to depend less on the US. Shutter the thought.

...or we can just do another 4 more years and keep the failed policies that put us in this mess.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

First and foremost, Trump is a con-man. A con-man is by definition someone who acts without regard to how badly his actions hurt other people, during his attempts to make himself wealthy.

Financial documents recently released by his campaign show that at least 10% of all payments by the elect-Trump campaign have been made to Trump's family members and his personal businesses. In other words, his presidential campaign has so far been a scam to make himself and his family rich, at the expense of his followers.

Trump has routinely used the bankruptcy courts to avoid paying his debts. This is not an accusation, since the man himself regularly brags about his many bankruptcies.

It is unlikely that a Trump presidency would be good for any group of people, other than his family members and his closest co-conspirators. Assuming that Trump is in any way an honest politician, as the author of this opinion piece does, displays an amazing lack of awareness.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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