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Opinion

Can Trump help Abe 'Make Japan great again'?

America First approach gives Abe opportunity to pursue his nationalist agenda

| Japan
U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo in November

Most Japanese have been pleasantly surprised by President Donald Trump's Japan policy. Ever since the 1980s, and throughout the 2016 presidential election campaign, Trump had repeatedly denounced Japan for its "unfair" trade practices and for its "free-riding" on defense. As a result, many Japanese feared that if elected, Trump would impose tariffs or use other means to restrict Japanese exports to the U.S. and attempt, perhaps through a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), to pry open the Japanese market. On national security, the fear was that Trump would force Japan to grow its military, pay more for U.S. forces in Japan, and join the U.S. in combat operations abroad.

So far, these fears have proved to be largely unfounded, even if Japan has to date not been exempted from the tariffs Trump plans to impose on steel and aluminum imports, unlike other close allies, including the EU.

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