This week’s featured article


The victory of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump invoked memories of June’s Brexit vote, a reminder that the unexpected can always happen.

For Japan, a Trump presidency could mean more headaches, as he is new to politics, to say nothing of his lack of diplomatic expertise. In essence, the billionaire businessman represents uncharted waters, a situation that could undermine the Japan-U.S. alliance and upend regional security in Asia.

It is unclear to what degree Trump understands the importance and role of his nation’s alliances. Cooperating and coordinating with Asian nations is crucial in dealing with China’s increasing assertiveness in the South and East China seas.

For Japan, the biggest concern is how Trump will deal with the U.S. commitment to defend its allies in Asia. Hillary Clinton was the first secretary of state to announce that Article 5 of the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty covers the Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Japan but claimed by China and Taiwan.

The real estate mogul also antagonized Asian allies Japan and South Korea by accusing them of freeloading under the nuclear umbrella provided by the U.S. He also said U.S. allies have to pay more for the protection of U.S. forces. Japan’s expenditures for the so-called sympathy budget for the U.S. military hit ¥192 billion in 2016 — the highest in seven years.

It is unclear if Trump will really ask Japan to pay more and withdraw U.S. military forces if it does not.

While the election results were surprising to many members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, Abe promptly congratulated the former TV celebrity, and lauded him, saying he has not only succeeded in business with his extraordinary talents, but now he is trying to lead the country itself.

Tokyo has not invested much in establishing a connection with the Trump camp, while it has maintained strong ties with Clinton, who met with Abe in September in New York while he was attending the United Nations General Assembly.

The only aide of Trump who visited Japan recently was Michael Flynn, who serves as Trump’s military adviser. In order to fill the gap, Tokyo on Wednesday hastily announced that it will dispatch Katsuyuki Kawai, special adviser to Abe, to the U.S. next week to meet the Trump camp.

First published in The Japan Times on Nov. 10.

Warm up

One-minute chat about elections.


Collect words related to the U.S., e.g., hot dog, state, immigrant.

New words

1) uncharted: unexplored or unknown; e.g., “We are in uncharted territory.”

2) assertiveness: being aggressive and direct in claiming one’s rights; e.g., “His lack of assertiveness means he can be bullied.”

Guess the headline

T_ _ _ _ and his policy in A_ _ _ remain an unknown for Japan


1) Which presidential nominee was closest to the Japanese government before the election?

2) How does Trump see the relationship between the U.S. and Asian allies such as Japan?

3) Who was to be the first Japanese government representative to meet the Trump camp?

Let’s discuss the article

1) How did you follow the U.S. election?

2) How do you think relations between Japan and the U.S. will be?

3) What should be done to ensure Japan has a good relationship with the U.S. under Trump?






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