See More on Facebook

Analysis, Diplomacy

Trump becomes first US leader to inspect Japanese warship

Analysts say its a show of solidarity with Abe.


Written by

Updated: May 29, 2019

Visiting United States President Donald Trump became the first US Commander-in-Chief to step on board a Japanese warship on Tuesday (May 28), in what the two wartime foes held up as a sign of their ironclad bond as security allies today.

Together with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Mr Trump inspected the JS Kaga at the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo.

The JS Kaga is one of Japan’s two largest Izumo-class warships. It will modify these helicopter destroyers into its first aircraft carriers since World War II, in a significant defence upgrade that will allow it to handle short take-off and vertical landing F-35B fighter jets.

Experts believe it was a political manoeuvre that showcases how far the two countries have come to build an alliance that is the bedrock of regional security and the centrepiece of their Free and Open Indo-Pacific vision.

Their joint inspection of the Kaga came just before Mr Trump celebrated Memorial Day with US servicemen – and without Mr Abe – on board the US warship Wasp, docked at the neighbouring US Naval base in Yokosuka.

“This is the only port in the world where a US Naval fleet and an Allied Naval fleet are working side by side with each other,” he said, with Mr Abe beside him on JS Kaga’s hangar deck.

“With this extraordinary new equipment, the Kaga will help our nations defend against a range of complex threats in the region and far beyond,” he added, in remarks to 500 active service personnel from both the US Navy and the MSDF.

Mr Trump extended his condolences to the victims and family members of a stabbing rampage near Tokyo on Tuesday (May 28): “All Americans stand with the people of Japan and grieve for the victims and for their families.”

A 11-year-old girl and a 39-year-old man died in the attack, while at least 16 others were injured. The 51-year-old culprit died of a self-inflicted wound.

Meanwhile, Mr Abe, in his remarks, described the Japan-US security alliance as beneficial for the “international public good”.

“The JS Kaga sailed through a vast area from the western Pacific through the Indian Ocean last year, to deepen the cooperation with navies of regional regional partners in close coordination with the US Navy,” he said, referring to a mission that took the warship through the South China Sea, much of which is claimed by Beijing.

“Our mission is to realise a free and open Indo-Pacific, and to establish a foundation for regional peace and prosperity.”

Later, on the USS Wasp, Mr Trump told the US troops: “We have to protect our country. We have to protect our allies.

“You face down terrorism and render aid in the wake of devastating natural disasters. You proudly patrol the Yellow Sea, the Sea of Japan (or East Sea), the East China Sea and the South China Sea.”

In what may be seen as a warning shot to China, Mr Trump vowed to further ramp up military spending that amounted to US$716 billion (S$986 billion) last year. The budget will be spent on equipment including five guided missile destroyers, four nuclear-powered fast attack submarines and 163 F-35 Joint Strike fighter jets.

He also praised Tokyo’s plans to purchase 105 new F-35 aircraft – first spelt out in Japan’s revised national defence programme guidelines last December – that will give Japan the largest F-35 fleet of any US ally.

Together with Japan, he said, US service personnel are “advancing freedom on the high seas, shielding our nation from dangerous weapons and preserving the peace that generations of valiant American warriors gave their lives to secure”.

Mr Trump left Japan at about 1pm (12pm Singapore time) on Tuesday, concluding a four-day state visit during which he and his wife Melania had an audience with Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako as the first state guests of the new Reiwa (beautiful harmony) era.

On his trip, the US leader also played golf and watched a sumo wrestling tournament with Mr Abe, with whom he also discussed such issues as trade and North Korea.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


About the Author: The Straits Times is Singapore's top-selling newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Analysis, Diplomacy

G20 draft calls for digital economy rules within the year

Digital laws have been proposed before in the past but is gaining traction ahead of the G20s. The leaders’ declaration for this week’s Group of 20 summit will call for creating a framework for drawing up international rules on the digital economy to be called the “Osaka track,” according to a draft obtained by The Yomiuri Shimbun. It will also call for achieving results within the year. The G20 leaders are scheduled to gather in Osaka on Friday and Saturday. In the draft, the section on the digital economy is part of a separate “Osaka statement.” The Osaka statement draft welcomes progress in discussions among about 80 interested World Trade Organization member states on an e-commerce accord. The draft expresses the G20’s support for rule creation and other developments in this area through the Osaka track. It states that the leaders vow to collaborate so people all over the world w


By The Japan News
June 27, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Korea, Saudi seek closer cooperation

The two sign MOUs, deals worth over $8 billion. President Moon Jae-in and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia met in Seoul on Wednesday to discuss ways to strengthen cooperation in a wide range of areas. The crown prince arrived in Seoul earlier in the day and was met by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon before moving on to Cheong Wa Dae for a welcoming ceremony followed by a meeting with Moon and his top aides. At the meeting, Moon stressed the importance of Korea-Saudi relations, highlighting economic projects between the two countries and Seoul’s involvement in Saudi’s Vision 2030 program. The Vision 2030 program is aimed at reducing the country’s economic dependence on oil and developing its public service sectors. “Korea is a strategic partner in Vision 2030, and the two countries are expanding the horizon of cooperation beyond construction and energy to ICT, smart infr


By The Korea Herald
June 27, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Iran says US ‘lying’ on talks

Tehran vows to reduce commitments to 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. The United States enacted a new round of sanctions on Monday, targeting Iran’s supreme leader and some senior officials, further escalating tensions between the two sides. US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Monday, saying he is “imposing hard-hitting sanctions on the supreme leader of Iran and the office of the supreme leader of Iran and many others”. Trump accused Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of being ultimately “responsible for the hostile conduct” of the country. In response, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday that the fresh sanctions prove that Washington is lying about seeking to hold talks with Teheran. “At the same time as you call for negotiations you seek to sanction the foreign minister? It’s o


By China Daily
June 27, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Chinese aircraft carrier passes through Taiwan Strait

Taiwan says it closely monitored the situation. Taiwan’s military said June 25 it closely monitored the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning, as it passed through the Taiwan Strait earlier in the day. Having completed its mission in the South China Sea, the aircraft carrier, accompanied by a number of other combat ships, sailed north through the Taiwan Strait before returning to its home port of Qingdao in Shandong province, according to the defense ministry. The Liaoning is China’s first aircraft carrier and is named after one of its northeastern provinces. The 300-meter-long vessel was refurbished and upgraded from an unfinished Soviet carrier and commissioned in 2012. The Liaoning was observed passing through the Miyako Strait in the East China Sea earlier this month on its way to the Pacific Ocean, where the People’s Liberation Army Navy conducted training operations, according to Japan


By Cod Satrusayang
June 27, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Japan, Russia to not discuss sensitive territorial issue at G20

Japan, Russia likely to skip agreement on travel to northern territories at G20. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin are unlikely to agree on a framework to facilitate travel to the northern territories at their bilateral meeting to be held as early as Saturday on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit, according to Japanese government sources. Since April, the two governments have been studying a system to grant people traveling between the two countries and the northern territories special passport and visa treatment. The system would enable joint economic activities without harming the legal positions of Japan and Russia, which both claim sovereignty over the four islands. Japan had been considering a Russian proposal to allow short-term visa exemptions for travel between Hokkaido and Sakhalin in the Russian Far East, with the aim of reaching an


By The Japan News
June 26, 2019

Analysis, Diplomacy

Vietnam, EU to sign free trade agreement

The agreement will be signed in Hanoi on June 30. The European Council announced on Tuesday that it has approved the European Union – Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the EU – Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA), and assigned the EU to sign the deals with Vietnam on June 30 in Hanoi The EVFTA and EVIPA are the most ambitious agreements concluded between the EU and a developing country. Once the EVFTA takes effect, over 99 per cent of tariff on goods from both sides will be lifted. Vietnam will remove 65 per cent of import tariff on goods from the EU. Remaining tariffs will be removed in the next decade. Besides offering significant economic opportunities, the trade agreement ensures that trade, investment and sustainable development go hand in hand, by setting the highest standards of labour, safety, environmental and consumer protection. Meanwhile, the EVITA will h


By Viet Nam News
June 26, 2019