‘Various remarks about almost everything’: Japan says Trump tweets are irrelevant to actual US policy

‘We should not react to a tweet by the president each time’, says foreign ministry source

Tom Barnes
Thursday 04 July 2019 14:39
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Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe (right) says he has no concerns about relations between Tokyo and Washington
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe (right) says he has no concerns about relations between Tokyo and Washington

His tweets have sparked outrage, sewed division and even wiped billions off the stock value of multinational corporations.

But in a world where many are preoccupied by what Donald Trump might say on Twitter next, it appears one country at least is not listening.

Officials in Japan are seemingly unperturbed by Mr Trump’s social media activity, so much so that they consider his frequent outbursts irrelevant to actual US policy.

Asked about the president’s recent criticism of relations between Washington and Tokyo, a Japanese foreign ministry source said Mr Trump made “various remarks about almost everything”, often straying from the position held by the US government.

“The Japanese government shouldn’t react to a tweet by the president each time. That’s not the right response for us,” the official told the Japan Times, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“If it’s their official position, we need to deal with it, but the president says various things.”

Few could blame Tokyo if it did have concerns about the rhetoric coming from the White House in recent weeks.

Just days before the G20 summit in Osaka, Mr Trump used an interview with Fox Business to bemoan the decades-old military agreement that the US would protect Japan should it ever be attacked.

Earlier that week, he complained on Twitter that Japan and China supposedly relied on US military power in the Strait of Hormuz, claiming they should protect their own ships after a Japanese tanker was attacked in the nearby Gulf of Oman.

“China gets 91% of its Oil from the Straight [sic], Japan 62%, and many other countries likewise,” the president wrote.

“So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation.”

Despite Mr Trump’s comments, Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan, has insisted the alliance between the two nations is strong and the US was not considering ripping up existing agreements.

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The president has been an enthusiastic user of Twitter for the best part of a decade and has tweeted almost 9,000 times since taking office.

Although some attribute the acerbic style of his posts for propelling him towards the White House, other studies have shown the public are put off by his social media presence.

A Fox News poll in 2017 found 71 per cent of US voters thought Mr Trump’s Twitter usage hindered his cause, while a 2019 survey by the University of Massachusetts said two-thirds of Millennials disapproved of his tweeting.

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