Brett Velicovich: Trump trip to Japan will benefit US and our allies

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President Trump’s just-concluded visit to Japan was more than ceremonial. The four-day trip furthered his bold and broad agenda to strengthen ties with key U.S. allies that play a vital role in resolving the world’s greatest geopolitical challenges.

To this day, North Korea remains one of the biggest foreign policy conundrums facing the U.S.

While President Trump has made remarkable progress in getting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un to the negotiating table, Kim has not agreed to get rid of his nuclear weapons, as Trump and previous U.S. presidents have demanded.

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By bolstering U.S. allies in the region, however, Trump is enabling South Korea and Japan to further develop their own defense capabilities – a move that puts more pressure on the North.

“The United States supports Japan’s efforts to improve its defense capabilities, and in recent months, we have greatly expedited the sale of large amounts of defense equipment to Japan, made in the United States,” Trump said during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Pyongyang doesn’t want South Korea and Japan to possess sophisticated defense capabilities – which is precisely why the U.S. must continue to arm both countries until North Korea makes a firm and enforceable commitment to denuclearization.

“In 2018, Japan was one of the world’s top purchasers of American defense equipment, and it has just announced its intent to purchase 105 brand new F-35 stealth aircraft,” Trump said. “This purchase would give Japan the largest F-35 fleet of any U.S. ally.”

Predictably, the importance of Trump’s trip to Asia and his meeting with Japan’s prime minister was lost on much of the mainstream media.

CBS News, for instance, reported that “the visit was more ceremony than substance,” ignoring the significant implications of the F-35 deal. In addition, CBS stressed that both countries have yet to agree on trade, despite the fact that a new bilateral trade agreement is a low-priority issue right now for both Washington and Tokyo.

As America seeks to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully, we will need the continued support of our allies. Pyongyang doesn’t want South Korea and Japan to possess sophisticated defense capabilities – which is precisely why the U.S. must continue to arm both countries until North Korea makes a firm and enforceable commitment to denuclearization.

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Trump’s trip to Japan is yet another reminder of his commitment to pursue peace through strength and diplomacy. By strengthening our relationship with steadfast allies such as Japan, the president has placed America in an even better position to pacify the North Korean regime and bring an end to one of the biggest global security challenges of the century.

Based on the stakes for the national security interests of the United States in Asia, this was a trip that achieved much more than symbolic gestures of relationship-building for President Trump. It was far more substance than sizzle, and that will benefit America tremendously going forward.

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