On Monday President Donald Trump refused to condemn North Korea’s recent short-range missile tests, claiming that he wasn’t “personally bothered” by them. Contrary to the requests of both Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Trump’s own national security advisor, John Bolton, the President also avoided stating that North Korea’s missile tests violated United Nations resolutions, thereby keeping the U.S. farther away from a conflict with the North.

Relations between the United States and North Korea are currently rocky, with diplomacy between the two countries at a stalemate since the inconclusive conference in Hanoi during February of 2019. Neither Trump nor Kim Jong-un could agree on what each side should concede, causing both sides to leave the summit empty-handed.


Trump’s claims came during a very chummy visit to Japan in which Abe plied the President with golfing and sumo wrestling. It is essential for the Japanese Prime Minister to foster a friendly bond between him and Trump in order to foster a better relationship between Japan and America. While the two nations have historically been close allies, the President has taken a more standoffish relationship with Japan recently, repeatedly bringing up the issue of the $68 billion trade deficit between the two countries.


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It is in Japan’s best interest to stay close to the United States, as the U.S. is one of Japan’s biggest trading partners. The main trade issue for Abe is reducing American tariffs on steel and aluminum, as well as persuading Trump not to enact new car tariffs which would harm Japan’s vital auto industry. Japan technically depends entirely on the United States for its defense, as Article 9 of the Japanese constitution prevents the country from maintaining an army or going to war. If China or North Korea were to ratchet up their actions in the region, Japan would be unable to assert itself without the strength of the United States behind it.

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