A meeting between Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New York next Thursday may include discussing tougher stance on China which seeks to extend its influence over Southeast Asia, Reuters reported on Friday.
Trump wants Japan “to play a more active role in Asia,” a security adviser for the US president-elect who chose not to disclose his identity, told Reuters.
He added that Abe, was “a uniquely placed figure to offer leadership in the [US-Japan] alliance,” and the next US president would attempt to alleviate any “unfounded” concerns Abe may have and reassure his commitment to the countries’ security alliance, the source added.
“This is going to be a respectful conversation,” he said.
During his presidential campaign, Trump argued that Japan and other Washington’s allies should contribute more into funding American troops stationed in these countries, otherwise threatening a complete withdrawal.
Close military-to-military ties between the long-standing allies may be strained by a dispute over Tokyo’s funding of the US forces in Japan. Top officials in Tokyo insist the funding is sufficient and covers three-quarters of the cost, according to Reuters.
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada stressed on Friday that Japanese contribution, amounting nearly 200 billion yen ($1.9 billion) a year in the so-called host-nation support for 50,000 US troops, cannot be bigger.
“I believe it’s enough. We pay what we are supposed to cover,” Inada was quoted by the AP.
However, the Reuters source said, Trump would end defense spending cuts and propose a budget that would include building dozens of new navy vessels to “send a message to Beijing as well as allies Japan and South Korea and other nations that the US is intent on being in [Asia] for a long time.”