February 2, 2017 10:00 am JST

Editorial: Trump's travel ban defies what makes America great

Inciting divisions puts US, world at risk; allies such as Japan must respond

The strength and greatness of the U.S. stem from its ability to unite people from all places and walks of life under the flag of liberty and freedom. The recent entry ban imposed by President Donald Trump on refugees and citizens of certain countries feeds concerns that the U.S. itself is destroying this core value.

The international community shares the task of fighting the spread of radical Islamist terrorism. But Trump's actions, which could be taken as a direct attack on Muslims and those from the Middle East, will only incite anger in the region and fan the flames of terror.

HURTING ITSELF As a result of Trump's executive order, a number of people were barred from entering the U.S. at airports across the country or from boarding U.S.-bound flights in the Middle East and other regions. Protests against the ban have erupted nationwide.

Trump has stopped the intake of all refugees for 120 days as well as travel from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa for 90 days. Iraq and other nations on this list have diplomatic ties with the U.S. Shutting out the citizens of these countries, even travelers with valid visas, can only be described as unjust.

Many members of the Islamic State militant group hail from countries not included on Trump's list. Radical thought spreads across borders, and barring entry from specific countries will do little to prevent terrorist attacks.

The seven countries have railed against the ban. Growing anti-U.S. sentiments will only increase the ranks of potential terrorists and ultimately benefit terrorist organizations. A unilateral shutdown of U.S. borders is not a solution to terrorism or the refugee crisis. It is important to push for stability in the Middle East and Africa, and to support peace efforts and economic development to improve the lives of the people there.

The U.S. has endured a string of violent attacks. Around 50 people were killed in June in Orlando, Florida -- the deadliest mass shooting in American history. A September bombing in New York City injured about 30. Trump likely implemented these unprecedented immigration controls because he considers U.S. security to be at risk. But his action is counterproductive in terms of preventing terrorism and has dealt a damaging blow to the country's long-term interests.

The ability of the U.S. to act as the leader of the world has rested not just on great national power, but also in America having valued and defended liberty and human rights, with the acceptance of refugees serving as the prime example.

The talent the U.S. took in from around the world has served as the foundation of innovation and progress. The information technology sector, a key beneficiary of this inflow, is already affected by the ban, which will limit travel of workers who are citizens of the seven countries. It is only natural that chief executives of Apple, Google and other industry giants are voicing concerns.

If the entry ban persists, the world will lose faith in the U.S., and Trump's promise to "make America great again" will end up as nothing but hot air. Rifts along religious and ethnic lines will deepen, putting the world further at risk. American allies must also play a role to prevent this nightmare scenario.

JAPAN'S DUTY French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke to Trump by phone to express their concerns, as would be expected from a U.S. ally governed by democratic ideals.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also had a call with Trump after the order was signed. According to people familiar with the call, Abe praised Trump for energetically tackling issues immediately after taking office and expressed hope that the U.S. will become an even greater country under the president's leadership. It is unclear whether Abe commented on the entry ban.

Abe has advocated for cooperation with other nations that share Japan's value of liberty. Remarks and actions by the Trump administration that violate human rights are exactly what the prime minister should be standing against.

Japan also trails the rest of the world in terms of accepting refugees. Just six of the 7,926 individuals who applied for refugee status between January and September last year were approved. The country needs to have a serious debate on how it should react to the crisis.

Get Insights on Asia In Your Inbox

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

Get your first month for $0.99

Redeemable only through the Subscribe button below

Once subscribed, you can…

  • Read all stories with unlimited access (5 articles per month without subscription)
  • Use our smartphone and tablet apps

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

3 months for $9
SUBSCRIBE TODAY

Take advantage of this limited offer.
Subscribe now to get unlimited access to all articles.

To read the full story, Update your account

We could not renew your subscription.
You need to update your payment information.

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

Once subscribed, you can…

  • Read all stories with unlimited access (5 articles per month without subscription)
  • Use our smartphone and tablet apps

To read the full story, Subscribe or Log in

3 months for $9
SUBSCRIBE TODAY

Take advantage of this limited offer.
Subscribe now to get unlimited access to all articles.

To read the full story, Update your account

We could not renew your subscription.
You need to update your payment information.