According to “diplomatic sources,” the Japan Times reports, U.S. President Donald Trump told Japan and other Southeast Asian countries that Tokyo should have shot down the North Korean missiles that flew over the country earlier this year.
Trump questioned Japan’s decision not to shoot down the missiles when he met or spoke by phone with leaders from Southeast Asian countries over recent months to discuss how to respond to the threats from North Korea, the sources said.
In fact, Trump was reportedly flabbergasted by Japan’s decision not to do so. Or, as he apparently put it himself:
The U.S. president said he could not understand why a country of samurai warriors did not shoot down the missiles, the sources said.
The main reasons are probably that the Japanese a) saw that the missiles wouldn’t land on Japanese territory and b) don’t have the high-tech weaponry that the U.S. has. They could’ve tried, but it’s likely that any attempt to shoot down the missiles would have failed. It goes without saying that this scenario would be even more embarrassing to Japan than not doing anything and letting the missiles fall into the Pacific, where they wouldn’t do any serious damage to anyone or anything.
Statements like this one are why even those who are sympathetic towards Trump’s agenda, in general, have a hard time taking him seriously on foreign affairs. It’s not as bad as “I can see Russia from my house” (I know, Sarah Palin didn’t actually say it, so perhaps Trump’s remarks are worse), but it’s pretty bad nonetheless; not only because he clearly doesn’t understand the balance of power in Asia, but also because he actually referred to Japan’s Samurai past, the glorification of which was one of the main reasons for Japan’s decision to join forces with Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Japan has worked hard at redirecting that Samurai mentality from militarism to doing business — which has been a blessing for the entire world — but Trump is basically arguing they need to reverse that process. And be quick about it too.
Here’s an idea: let’s not do that. Obviously, Japan has to defend itself when it’s attacked, but let’s not encourage the Japanese to reintroduce the militarism of the Samurai.