Japan Institute for National Fundamentals

Speaking out

Yoichi Shimada

【#365】Listen to “Sound” Portion of Trump’s Arguments

Yoichi Shimada / 2016.03.30 (Wed)

March 28, 2016

     To avoid any misunderstanding, I must say first that Donald Trump, front-runner for the U.S. Republican presidential nomination, is not credible at all as a politician. His frequent abusive remarks are extremely uncomfortable. However, Japan should listen and respond to what could be taken as sound argument among those that he has made.
     In an interview with The New York Times on March 26, Trump made the following remarks:
     (1) If Americans are attacked, Japanese don’t have to do anything. If they’re attacked, we have to go out with full force. That’s a pretty one-sided agreement.
     (2) Where Japan is defending itself against North Korea is a real problem. (Asked if Japan should have their own nuclear arsenal) They’re going to want to have that any way with or without me discussing it.
     Trump has thus raised questions that got straight to the point.

Utilitarianism lacking philosophy
     Whether Trump would be elected U.S. president is a problem beyond our power of solution but Japan should be politically awakened by Trump’s warnings. To this end, Trump should also correct his too utilitarian attitude.
     “To fight for the cause of freedom, Japan and the United States must build a real offensive and defensive alliance and confront the Communist Party of China and the Workers’ Party of (North) Korea. I’ve been tired of hearing excuses such as that Japan cannot build such alliance under constitutional constraints.” If Trump asserts so, most of reasonable people in Japan and the United State may agree. However, Trump only urges U.S. allies to pay more for U.S. deterrence. As a result, Japanese politicians may be relieved that Trump is asking Japan only to increase its share of costs for stationing U.S. forces in Japan.
     Moreover, the world will be more destabilized if totalitarian countries conclude that the next U.S. president would stick to the utilitarian approach.

Trump’s unpredictability
     Asked what to do if China occupies the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in a recent interview with The Washington Post, Trump said, “I don’t like to tell you what I’d do.” He meant that it would be wise to leave U.S. moves unpredictable for China.
     Then President Ronald Reagan had asserted that he would take advantage of leaving U.S. moves unpredictable for the Soviet Union. In the case of Reagan who had called the Soviet Union an “evil empire” and clarified the philosophy of freedom, the word “unpredictable” meant that the United States might take military action without any utilitarian approach. In the case of Trump, a miser lacking any clear philosophy, the word “unpredictable” is superficial.
     In this respect, pure conservative Senator Ted Cruz, Trump’s rival in the Republican nomination race, has no philosophical or ideological ambiguity. Backed by the Tea Party grass-roots movement calling for self-responsibility, Cruz is known for his unyielding attitude criticizing the U.S. elite establishment as “Washington Cartel.” It is fairly clear what kind of domestic policy he will be pursuing. However, his foreign policy remains mostly unknown. I would welcome Cruz if he constructively urges Japan to be self-responsible. However, whether he has strategic flexibility is still uncertain.

Yoichi Shimada is Planning Committee Member, Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, and Professor at Fukui Prefectural University.