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Former Trump strategist Steve Bannon praises Abe’s nationalist agenda

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Visiting ex-White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on Sunday lauded Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his Trump-like effort to infuse Japan with a spirit of nationalism while unleashing a volley of scathing criticism against what he called the “mainstream media,” likening them to “running dogs” with a globalist agenda.

Bannon, who was in Tokyo over the weekend to attend a gathering of conservatives, said Japan was on the right track under Abe, whom he called a “Trump before Trump.”

“He talked about a nation’s pride, a nation’s destiny, a nation taking control of its future,” Bannon said when talking about Abe in his speech at the Japanese Conservative Political Action Conference 2017, co-hosted by the Japanese Conservative Union and the American Conservative Union.

As such, Bannon, who is now head of the right-wing news website Breitbart News, credited Abe for trying to “re-instill the spirit of nationalism” and for not shying away from discussing “vital” issues including Japan’s “rearmament.”

“Japan has every opportunity to seize its destiny, to re-establish its national identity (and) in true partnership with the United States, reverse what the elites have allowed to happen,” he said. He added it is not a “full-blown conclusion” yet that Japan has to keep languishing under the shadow of a rising China.

Bannon’s attack on those who he referred to as “elites” and a “nullification project” that he claims is being led by the mainstream media, both overseas and in Japan, was another recurring theme in the blistering speech he delivered Sunday.

“The mainstream media, liberal media, remember, they are the running dogs of the globalist. They are a propaganda machine,” Bannon said, quoting a source in Japan as telling him that the Japanese news coverage of U.S. politics makes it sound as if Trump will be impeached “tomorrow morning.”

“The ‘hobbits,’ ‘deplorables,’ and the forgotten men and women that put him in office in November 2016 will never allow” him to be ousted, Bannon said, as core Trump supporters are often called by their political opponents.

“They will only be there for him to make sure he wins a glorious re-election,” he said, eliciting a burst of applause.

Noting conservatives are hungry for the truth, Bannon also expressed a willingness for Breitbart News to make forays into Asia, signaling the possibility offices headquartered in Tokyo or Seoul might be created.

“As long as we provide a platform to get alternatives to what the mainstream is saying, we’re gonna be fine,” he said.

On trade, Bannon backed Trump’s controversial decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, even though withdrawing from the multinational deal amounted to the U.S. essentially spoiling what would have been a perfect “China-containing project,” as freelance journalist Taro Kimura put it during his joint appearance with Bannon.

In response, Bannon called the TPP an “ill-defined, generalized” agreement that the U.S. cannot get into anymore, and clarified Trump’s “America First” slogan as meaning an “America in partnership.”

“If the Japanese intelligentsia is sitting around and waiting for us to re-hit the bid on TPP, it’s not going to happen.”

Referring to joint military exercise between the U.S. Navy and the Self-Defense Forces, Bannon said “there is not a finer group of people” than the SDF.

“If we come together as friends and partners, (sunlight) opens up ahead of us,” he said, referring to U.S. allies in Asia, including Japan, South Korea, India and Singapore.