U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s meeting next week with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may mark the start of talks to garner Japan’s support for a push back against China’s growing influence in Asia, a security adviser to Trump said.
In the face of a rising China and a volatile North Korea, Trump’s campaign comments, including a demand that Japan pay more for the upkeep of U.S. forces on its soil, have worried Tokyo about a rift in a security alliance with Washington that has been the bedrock of its defense since World War Two.
A tougher stance against China, however, and a call for Japan to play a bigger security role through a Trump-Abe axis would fit with Abe’s hawkish policies that include allowing the military to operate more freely overseas.
Trump was looking to Japan “to play a more active role in Asia”, the adviser, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to talk to the media, told Reuters.
Abe, he added, was “a uniquely placed figure to offer leadership in the alliance”.
Senior U.S. Navy commanders have said they would welcome joint air and sea patrols with Japan’s military in the disputed South China Sea, where the construction of island bases is extending Beijing’s influence. Tokyo has balked at direct provocation of its neighbor, choosing instead to assist nations in the region with disputes with China, such as the Philippines.