Trump lands in Seoul vowing to ‘figure it all out’
BANGKOK (Rod Borrowman/ANN Desk) – After lashing Japan on trade and urging it to buy American weaponry, US leader heads to Korean peninsula
“We will figure it all out!” tweeted US President Donald Trump on Tuesday as he headed for a meeting with his South Korean counterpart on the latest leg of his Asia trip. Amid soaring tensions over North Korea’s weapons programme, the US president took off from Tokyo on Tuesday after urging Japanese leader Shinzo Abe to take a tougher line with Pyongyang.
Trump said Japan would be able to shoot North Korean missiles “out of the sky” when it acquired the necessary US weaponry.
“The prime minister of Japan is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should,” Trump said at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Abe on Monday. “It is a lot of jobs for us and a lot of safety for Japan,” he added.
Abe vowed more unilateral sanctions, the Straits Times reports.
Their exchange over shooting down the North’s missiles came after Trump had questioned why Japan – as a “samurai warrior nation” – did not do so when Pyongyang sent two missiles flying over Hokkaido this year.
In Tokyo, Trump met Mrs Sakie Yokota, 81, whose 13-year-old daughter was kidnapped by North Korean agents in 1977, becoming one of many abducted Japanese citizens.
Trump also referred to US citizen Otto Warmbier, who died in July after being imprisoned by Pyongyang for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster.
“The US stands in solidarity with the people of Japan against the North Korean menace,” Trump said. “History has proven over and over again that strong and free nations will always prevail over tyrants who oppress their people.”
On trade, Trump lashed out at Japan by claiming it had been “winning” for decades at the expense of the US.
“We want fair and open trade, but right now our trade with Japan is not fair and open,” he said, as quoted by the Straits Times.
“The US has suffered massive trade deficits with Japan for many, many years. So, we will have to negotiate, and we will do this in a friendly way.”
He cited the “many millions of cars sold by Japan in the US, whereas virtually no cars go from the US into Japan”.
Hours later, he again broached the issue while standing beside Abe at a news conference, called for a “fair, open and reciprocal trade relationship”. The US trade deficit with Japan last year was $68.9 billion.
Trump in January withdrew the US from the Trans Pacific Partnership, which Tokyo is expected to seal with 10 other nations this week. He hopes instead to move forward with a bilateral free trade agreement with Japan.
Trump bade farewell to Tokyo, where trade and tensions with North Korea appear to have dominated talks, with a triumphal tweet:
“My visit to Japan and friendship with PM Abe will yield many benefits, for our great Country. Massive military & energy orders happening+++!.”
He followed up with another be fore taking off for Seoul on Tuesday:
“Getting ready to leave for South Korea and meetings with President Moon, a fine gentleman. We will figure it all out!” the president tweeted at 6am.
Trump will kick off his two-day visit to South Korea at the Camp Humphreys US military base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province. He will also meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and give a speech at the National Assembly. Trump is expected to urge Moon to take a more hawkish stance on North Korea’s nuclear programme. The deployment in South Korea of the US THAAD anti-missile defence system has triggered tensions with China, which says its radar can be used to snoop on its territory. On Monday, South Korean foreign minister Kang Kyung-wha said Seoul is not considering additional THAAD deployments and would not join the US-led missile defence system.
- Trump lands in Seoul vowing to ‘figure it all out’