Trump’s Tough Talk On Trade Spooks Japan

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Japanese leaders announced their concern of a potential Donald Trump presidency, fearing the business mogul’s tough trade beliefs could negatively impact the Asian country.

Japan is a frequent target of Trump’s rhetoric, who referred to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other Japanese officials as “killers” in an August speech critical of their potentially disastrous monetary policies. Trump regularly attacks the U.S. ally, specifically on trade, accusing its government of unfair practices, reports Financial Times.

Initially, Japanese citizens and officials did not take Trump’s run seriously, according to political analysts in the country. As Trump continues to gain momentum and solidify his position as the GOP front-runner, Japanese leaders are becoming increasingly unnerved.

“To start with they just thought ‘he’s funny’,” Masatoshi Honda, professor of politics at Kinjo told Financial Times Monday. “But recently they’re starting to worry – what happens if Trump wins?”

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is of particular concern to leadership in Japan, which has come under a wave of bipartisan attacks from presidential candidates. In a recent opinion piece, Trump called the agreement a “betrayal” of American workers representing a “mortal threat” to the U.S. manufacturing industry.

Trump says TPP is a lopsided deal because most of the benefits going to Asian countries will absorb American jobs if the plan is enacted. Vietnam is a perfect example, Trump says, outlining how corporations will shift production to the low wage country if TPP is passed, reports USA Today. Trump says politicians are beholden to corporate interests that profit from offshoring American jobs, and TPP will only ensure more jobs leaving the U.S.

“The situation is about to get drastically worse if the Trans-Pacific Partnership is not stopped,” Trump wrote Monday in his op-ed. “One of the first casualties of the TPP will be America’s auto industry, and among the worst victims of this pact will be the people of Ohio. The TPP will send America’s remaining auto jobs to Japan.”

Regardless of the political outcome in November, Japanese leaders feel Trump’s rhetoric against TPP will threaten it’s chances of ever passing through Congress. If Abe passes TPP through his government but it fails in America, Japan could face huge economic repercussions, reports CNBC.

Trump’s unpredictability is also a concern among leaders in Japan. China and North Korea remain threats to Japan, which will continue to rely on the U.S. military to act as a deterrent to possible aggression.

“I will take his remarks seriously when he is elected president,” Kuni Miyake, head of the Foreign Policy Institute in Tokyo told Financial Times. “Media overreaction creates people like Trump, who represent the dark side of the US. I believe in the western democracies – in the end they’ll come up with a healthy outcome.”

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