Trump's state visit to Japan included him calling his host country a security threat and minimizing the threat of North Korea.
Trump spent Memorial Day weekend in Japan singing the praises of murderous North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and unnerving his host, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Trump was in Japan to solidify allegiances and meet Japan's new emperor. What could have been a routine state visit instead turned into another Trump-fueled disaster. He terrified Abe about tariffs and trade while downplaying concerns over North Korea's recent short-range missile tests. Then, for good measure, he publicly agreed with Kim Jong Un to attack former Vice President Joe Biden.
The Trump administration has been threatening Japan with tariffs on Japanese cars exported here. In a normal state visit with a normal president, that would likely be something that was addressed diplomatically, with both sides seeking to understand each other and avert economic warfare. That's not how Trump operates.
Instead, Trump informed Abe the fact Japan has a trade surplus with America is a security threat. Why? As Trump explained at a joint presser with Abe in Tokyo: "When I talk about a security threat, I talk about a balance sheet." That is generally not what anyone else means by a security threat.
During this trip, Trump also made clear that Japan's safety is of no real concern to him.
In early May, North Korea conducted several short-range missile tests. It's a move that even the president's own National Security Adviser, John Bolton, said violated U.N. Security Council Resolutions. And it's a move that is deeply worrisome to Japan.
Japan and North Korea have a longstanding history of poor relations, with each side viewing the other as militaristic and dangerous. North Korea has previously fired missiles over Japan itself. With that, it's no surprise that Abe called North Korea's most recent missile test "quite a regrettable act."
But Trump doesn't care. Trump's adoration of Kim Jong Un, combined with his tone-deaf stance toward anything delicate or geopolitical, led him to brag that North Korea's missile tests "disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me." He even went so far as to say he doesn't think the tests violated any U.N. resolution, directly contradicting Bolton, and mused that he is "very happy" with his relationship with Kim Jong Un.
Trump was also so eager to suck up to Kim that he used Kim's words to insult Joe Biden. Kim had called Biden "low IQ" — the exact sort of formless and foolish insult Trump loves. Trump tweeted about it and then used a press conference with Abe to double down, saying "[Kim] made a statement that Joe Biden is a low IQ individual. He probably is based on his record. I think I agree with him on that."
Abe has tried to endear himself to Trump in the ways Trump likes best: by flattering him and imitating him. He had custom "Make Alliance Even Greater" hats made with both their names on it. He may even have nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize.
None of those things matter, though. Trump will still happily harm Japan economically and put their safety at risk, all in service to his ego and his adoration of North Korea's murderous dictator.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.