U.S. President Donald Trump addresses members of U.S. military services and the Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) at the U.S. Yokota Air Force base in Fussa, on the outskirts of Tokyo, on Sunday morning. Photo: REUTERS/Toru Hanai
politics

Trump says U.S., allies prepared to defend freedom

51 Comments
By Steve Holland

U.S. President Donald Trump ramped up his tough rhetoric against North Korea when he arrived in Japan on Sunday, saying that the United States and its allies are prepared to defend freedom and that "no dictator" should underestimate U.S. resolve.

Trump kicked off a 12-day Asian trip and is looking to present a united front with Japan against North Korea through meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests.

He told reporters on Air Force One en route to Asia that North Korea would figure prominently in discussions during the trip. He also singled out trade, which he said had been "badly handled" in the region for years.

Trump has rattled some allies with his vow to "totally destroy" North Korea if it threatens the United States and his dismissal of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a "rocket man" on a suicide mission.

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Air Force One arrives at Yokota air base on Sunday. Photo: REUTERS

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U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania are welcomed upon arrival at Yokota air base in Fussa City, on Sunday. Photo: REUTERS/Kazuhiro Nogi/Pool

"No dictator, no regime, no nation should ever underestimate American resolve," Trump told hundreds of cheering U.S. and Japanese troops in camouflage uniforms gathered at Yokota Air Base, just west of Tokyo, soon after he arrived.

"Every once in a while, in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?" said Trump, who wore a leather bomber jacket as he addressed the troops.

North Korea's recent actions, including several missiles that overflew Japan and Pyongyang's sixth and largest nuclear test, have raised the stakes in the most critical international challenge of Trump's presidency.

Recent drills over South Korea by two U.S. strategic bombers have further raised tensions.

"We will never yield, never waver and never falter in defence of our freedom," Trump said.

He told reporters earlier on Air Force One that a decision would be made soon on whether to add reclusive North Korea to a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

His administration also planned to take a different approach to dealing with the issue after years of what he termed "total weakness", although he did not give any details.

"We want to get it solved. It's a big problem for our country and the world, and we want to get it solved," he said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters before Trump's arrival that he welcomed the visit as a chance to deepen bilateral ties by building upon the "friendship and trust" between the two leaders, fostered by several meetings that included a round of golf in Florida earlier this year.

"I hope we will be able to have thorough discussions about international issues, including North Korea," he said.

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President Donald Trump meets with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Kasumigaseki Country Club, Sunday. Photo: AP

Trump and Abe greeted each other with a handshake at a golf course to be used during the 2020 Olympic games, changing clothes and heading out to play after what media said was a lunch of hamburgers. In an allusion to a Trump campaign slogan, they signed ball caps that said "Donald and Shinzo Make Alliance Even Greater."

More discussions are set for Monday.

Trump also said he planned to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trip, the longest Asian tour by any U.S. leader since George H.W. Bush in 1992.

"I think it's expected that we will meet," he said. "We want Putin's help on North Korea."

Trump wants a united front with the leaders of Japan and South Korea against North Korea before he visits Beijing to make the case to Chinese President Xi Jinping that he should do more to rein in Pyongyang.

Trade will factor heavily during Trump's trip as he tries to persuade Asian allies to agree to policies more favourable to the United States, a point Trump emphasised.

A centerpiece of the trip will be a visit to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam, where he will deliver a speech in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, which is seen as offering a bulwark in response to expansionist Chinese policies.

"One of the things we're going to be very focused on is trade because trade has not been done well for 25 years by the United States with this part of the world, with any part of the world," he said on Air Force One.

"We're going to be discussing reciprocal trade. Fair, free but reciprocal," he said.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

©2017 GPlusMedia Inc.

51 Comments
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That speech was a total love fest between Trump and the US military. Like a campaign speech.

11 ( +14 / -3 )

As someone who served almost 3 years alongside the Koku Jietai, I thought it was very nice. I’m sure there are lots of folks who never sacrificed for their country, or served their country in uniform or fought in war that will disagree with me.

-8 ( +10 / -18 )

"Every once in a while, in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?" 

Like Vietnam, which you were too much of a coward to join, Trump? Nice of him to volunteer us all to due for his own lunacy, though.

6 ( +12 / -6 )

in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?"

lost all wars (many ongoing). Many young Americans young people dead, but nobody talks about veterans with no legs or PSTS. killed so many civilians, nobody can accurately count and destroyed stable countries through sanctions and destroying infrastructure.

for the first time I agree with him.

It was not pleasant for them, was it?"

7 ( +12 / -5 )

I’m sure there are lots of folks who never sacrificed for their country, or served their country in uniform or fought in war that will disagree with me.

What, like the man himself? That bone spur must have hurt a lot.

10 ( +13 / -3 )

I don't understand this expression "defending freedom", Bush used it a lot too.

As for Trump saluting, that is a travesty considering his military history, or lack of it.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

I’m sure there are lots of folks who never sacrificed for their country, or served their country in uniform or fought in war that will disagree with me.

I can think of one who will agree with you yuuugly.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Myself served and it is needed(conscription) for all male citizens women are voluntary.

My country is neutral but we still serve in UN peacekeeping missions, so we face conflicts, etc.

Myself been under fire and seen the horrors.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

"Every once in a while, in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?" said Trump, who wore a leather bomber jacket as he addressed the troops.

cheecky! Is he reminding the Japanese after is pit stop in Hawaii, while racking it up with Korea, on a US base located near Tokyo? Or Just the usual Homer?

leather bomber? Isnt it usually refered to as 'cos play' in Japan.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

That bomber jacket certainly shows off Trump's sleek, athletic build.

1 ( +6 / -5 )

 I’m sure there are lots of folks who never sacrificed for their country, or served their country in uniform or fought in war

One of them is named Donald Trump.

6 ( +10 / -4 )

Just don’t get captured.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I guess it’s good he is finally going to Vietnam since he tragically was unable to last time..

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Why the downvote?

Because a neutral country that partakes in global peace missions?

Yes, I consider conscription good and it benefits to turn teens into capable adults don't knock till you been there?

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

You can SMELL the distaine for military members by the person that wrote this “article”.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Sure keep down voting me. But what about our citizens that died in Kosovo, Iraq, etc.

What have you done?

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

We will never yield, never waver and never falter in defence of our freedom

What freedom is that? The freedom to avoid paying tax, the freedom to grab women, the freedom to use the job to enrich your family and friends, the freedom to lie, cheat and steal? How about the freedom to condemn millions around the world to war, disease and poverty. Or the freedom to steal the natural resources of any country foolish enough to want to control their own destiny? Or elect leaders you don't like?

We all know what he means by freedom.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

My son is about to turn 18 hence he needs to serve and face possible deployment to a front.

Good chance he won't return or even worse crippled.

-9 ( +1 / -10 )

No matter how you feel about who is president, there is always something inspiring about seeing Air Force One land. I'd love to go on board for a tour.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Easy talk as others will serve/die while he sits secure.

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Still being downvoted? Come out and give your name unless you are chicken.

Like I said I served my son is about to, both are fine with it. Even decades past my initial military training I guess I can take you down a peck or 2.

All other military personnel feel the same, all talk and no balls/guts.

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

WA4TKG, how do you get DISDAIN for the military out of this article? Just curious. As far as I can tell the only comments in there are by Trump himself.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Freedom? What freedom?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Still being downvoted? Come out and give your name unless you are chicken.

Stop complaining about being downvoted, and you won't get downvoted.

Even decades past my initial military training I guess I can take you down a peck or 2.

Fight fight fight!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Yes, joining the military and serving one’s country is very serious business. It is also not for everyone so I don’t denigrate anyone who didn’t serve. We also need people outside the military to do those things they do well and leave the military to those who are suited for it.

some countries require military service which I am ok with too. Mine does not so we have more options for our youth. I think that lack of military service requirement also leads to a lot of this anti military don’t stand for the flag type sentiment.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Oh and Trump has never “sacrificed” for his country? Well he is now.

He could just be a regular non racist rich guy having parties and golfing and being loved by all like he always was.

But instead he is serving his country, losing his money, and being constantly attacked to include suddenly being a “racist”. Strange the all the Clinton people came out of government millions of dollars richer but Trump isn’t.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

Wow. That speech was pure PNAC Imperialist American Jihadism.

I wonder how much those particular troops were paid to whoop and shriek. Disgusting behaviour on Japan's darkest day.

Older, wiser people who served Japan and the US are wise to this jingoism. Freedom does not come under the Trump banner. The man has subverted the idea of freedom, make no mistake.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Japans darkest day? That’s some Trump level hyperbole there, congratulations.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Crazy: "That bomber jacket certainly shows off Trump's sleek, athletic build."

Heh, everyone in that hangar loved Trump's speech. Here's the whole speech - enjoy the speech and the comments, Crazy!

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

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Today's speech showed just how far removed the Trump administration is from the rest of the planet. There is no freedom while he is PotUS.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Today's speech showed just how far removed the Trump administration is from the rest of the planet. There is no freedom while he is PotUS.

Like how? Because he didn’t lecture the troops about climate change?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Hey donnie  boy, perhaps you could put the word WAR into google along with any of the following, especially VIET NAM!

Ant then try Iraq, Afghanistan....... & then get back to us!

You can SMELL the distaine for military members by the person that wrote this “article”.

WHERE on earth are you getting this vibe?? The only one showing DISTAIN is the potus himself!!!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Allies prepared to defend freedom means huge amount of US ballistic weapons to be bought / installed in many corners of Japan, from our taxes of without exception!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

come on people, many presidents did not serve in the military, like obama. enough already

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This man's war rhetoric is the same you could hear from some dictators. It's scary when you hear these words from the president of the most powerful Country in the world, that is supposed to be a democracy. I wonder, why nobody in the US administration tell him to use a more diplomatic tone? I never liked the American foreign policy, but this president is destroying any little bit of trust that I had in the US. I don't think that using expressions like fire and fury, atomic attacks, total devastation, and stuff like this, is the proper language of the leader of a supposed democracy. You never hear something like this from the European leaders, not even by the Chinese and Russian leaders.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Pretty dull speech actually. 20 minutes of tedium. Probably his best yet.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

ClippetyClop Har! You must have watched a different speech than everyone in that hangar.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

You must have watched a different speech than everyone in that hangar.

How could I have done that? Anyway, most of 'em seemed pretty bored when the camera panned out. Soldiers are used to blowhard politicians like Trump. They know he was a coward back in 'Nam.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I’m sure there are lots of folks who never sacrificed for their country, or served their country in uniform or fought in war that will disagree with me.

Good on you for your sacrifice, man. But real heroes don’t gloat about it or denigrate civilians.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I do not see the need for every president to be a veteran, but every president should respect veterans, unlike this buffoon.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

As for trade US is basically not competitive in Japan unless Dollar/Yen is at 90 and Japanese "cultural & administrative" barriers are lifted. BOJ has been weakening the Yen since Kuroda appointment. Japan is still a one-trick pony for its exporters.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Trump kicked off a 12-day Asian trip and is looking to present a united front with Japan against North Korea...

Yes, the USA and Japan are united against North Korea, and Japan will be the front. Actually, South Korea will be the front, but Japan will be another front.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

BlattamexiguusNov. 5 02:22 pm JST"Every once in a while, in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?" said Trump, who wore a leather bomber jacket as he addressed the troops.

cheecky! Is he reminding the Japanese after is pit stop in Hawaii, while racking it up with Korea, on a US base located near Tokyo? Or Just the usual

Considering that his audience included not just USAF and USMC personnel but JASDF ones as well, and he repeatedly named the JSDF as allied partners, and he rattled off JADF commanders' names (without messing it up amazinghly), I'd have to say - No you're dead wrong.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Standing firm on the DPRK is long over due as part of the U.S. -Japan Military Strategy, but the way this is being handled is an unfolding tragedy. The inappropriate tone of rhetoric before the UN, the personal exchange of juvenile insults as a matter of foreign policy, failure to assist the Republic of Korea [and Japan] by not appointing a U.S. Ambassador, and now, while on Japanese soil, making this all about a “Trump first” campaign, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Apple Pie, and the celebration of wiping another nation off the map. It’s geopolitical ignorance and arrogance—like the world has indeed seen before. It was called the East-Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere Policy. Look it up.

While you’re searching, also look up, “bone spurs” and military service deferment and see who’s image you get in return. Although it’s not fair that military service is a requisite to speak about diplomacy and military policy, it helps to be somewhat conversant in those areas. I see no trace of any such attributes on this visit.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A good, simple rule when visiting a foreign country: DON'T MENTION THE WAR! (especially when the host country lost). Trump incongruously sporting a bomber jacket, so unbecoming for a former draft-dodger, ignored such niceties and gave another rhetorically-challenged, blowhard speech here in front of an overblown Stars and Stripes looking like a prop borrowed from the movie "Patton" while crowing from the podium that "it was not pleasant for countries that underestimated the US military". The Japanese, ever the genial hosts, will politely let such insensitive remarks pass, but they are mistaken if they think they will be able to derive any benefit from rearranging the deck chairs on the Trump administration's sinking ship which the rats will soon start to abandon as Robert Mueller's torpedoes approach.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Here's the really sad thing -- I mean the saddest thing. I doubt the US will put boots on the ground. They'll just drop bombs and hope for the best, and when NK retaliates, and possibly China and Russia, the US will then try to tone things down and talk about diplomacy after that fact.

It'll happen because Trump NEEDS it to happen. It is the ONLY way he is not going to be caught and taken down for his scandals in the very near future.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What "freedom" are you talking about??

1 ( +1 / -0 )

US news channels are all excited for Trump and Abe friendship. And ignoring unpopularity of Abe. Maybe Abe is popular in Japan? Trump is also popular in Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Trump is an absolute disgrace to the United States and its military. He won't shut up about his NK obsession.  No foreign leader or head of state in their right mind even wants to talk or listen to this stupid orangutan. Those troops were REQUIRED to salute the brute as he arrogantly walks past them, scowling like the brat he is. Then he stands in front of a giant Stars and Stripes giving his boorish hateful swill like a spoiled child in a tantrum. It's enough to make me throw up. As a veteran I am OFFENDED with his hatred of PTSD veterans (he says they're 'weak') and I am DISGUSTED with his immature behavior. He is nothing but a pompous ass criminal.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Freedom? Don't he mean freedom to make money from people working for chump change and to pop off the chops and make a blubbering fool of himself? People to get killed in order to line his pocket? The Japanese police need to arrest him, and keep him locked up forever - America don't want him back.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If I were the Emperor or PM I wouldn't even want to be anywhere near this corrupt cretin. HE is a dictator himself, and if I were a head of state I wouldn't want to talk to Trump - but to a legitimately elected POTUS.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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