OSAKA – The victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election has been greeted with concern and anxiety among political and business leaders, and the general public around the globe, who fear relations with Washington will worsen under his presidency.
But at least one influential Japanese commentator doesn’t seem worried.
Former Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto welcomes Trump’s win, saying it offers Japan an opportunity to become more independent and claiming Trump will leave a greater legacy than any other president in U.S. history if he achieves the policies he pledged.
For the past six months, Hashimoto, initial co-founder of the national political party Nippon Ishin no Kai and a former Osaka mayor, has made statements supporting Trump’s policies in various media and on his Twitter account. He traveled to the U.S. between Nov. 1 and last Friday, following the final days of the election and the immediate aftermath. He attended pre-election rallies for Trump and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, asking voters about Trump’s policies and his inflammatory comments, especially toward women and immigrants.
On Sunday, Hashimoto tweeted that Trump’s surprise victory would mark the dawn of a new era for not only the U.S., but also Japan.
“It’s the birth of the Trump presidency and it’s time for Japan to think seriously about self-reliance,” he tweeted. “Trump will support a self-reliant Japan. After all, it’s better for children to have parents teach them how to be self-reliant than to be overly protective of them.”
Hashimoto, a lawyer-turned politician who retired from politics last December, continues to be vocal on TV and social media. Despite his claim that he has retired from politics, speculation continues that he may make a comeback, this time on the national level.
Hashimoto has long been critical of what he says is America’s dominant role in the Japan-U.S. relationship, especially regarding the security alliance, as well the global influence of the U.S.
“It’s highly likely that (Trump’s win) will cut into the age of control by the U.S., Russia and China,” Hashimoto said Monday, adding that Trump would work with Russia, a close ally of Syria, to defeat the Islamic State militant group.
Late last week, Trump pledged to stick by his campaign pledge to assist Syrian President Bashar Assad in the fight against IS militants — a drastic diplomatic change from the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, which has supported anti-Assad rebels.
Supporting Assad means working with Russia, Syria’s close ally, and Trump has said he wants to mend relations with Moscow.
Hashimoto has also attempted to defend Trump’s views on what America needs to do about illegal immigrants.
“Trump has said illegal immigrants with criminal records will be forcibly deported. He recognizes that there are good people among illegal immigrants who have no criminal record. He may grant citizenship to such illegal immigrants. If Trump can create a law, he can surpass Obama,” Hashimoto said Monday on Twitter.
“Deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records, granting citizenship to other illegal immigrants under certain criteria, strengthening the Mexican border and tying up with Russia to defeat IS. (If he can achieve these) Trump will become the greatest achiever ever among U.S. presidents,” he added.
Even as he praised Trump, however, Hashimoto has also attempted to distance himself from those in Japan who say that the former Osaka mayor, as a “fellow dictator,” feels a natural sympathy for a Trump presidency.
“To be clear, it’s impossible for a dictator to arise in the current democratic countries,” he tweeted back in April, adding that what people who supported Trump wanted was a change in politics.
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