After on Wednesday Trump captured global headlines with colorful criticisms of the United States' decades-old defense pact with Japan — saying that if the US is attacked, Japan "can watch on a Sony television" — the president met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of the Group of 20 leaders’ meeting.
Though during their Friday meeting Abe reportedly praised the strength of the military alliance, the proceeding had the following epic jab hanging over it from Trump's Fox Business interview this week:
“We have a treaty with Japan. If Japan is attacked we will fight World War III. We will go in and we will protect them and we will fight with our lives and with our treasure. But if we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us. They can watch it on a Sony television,” Trump said days ago.
Despite that, the meeting was cordial enough, with Trump returning Abe's positive remarks on the post-WWII treaty by thanking Japan for creating thousands of jobs in the US through its many American-based manufacturing plants, especially in the auto sector.
“The frequency of travels by top leaders of the two countries is proof of the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance,” Abe had stated of his ally.
“We just left Japan and now we’re back,” Trump joked in response. He noted that Friday's talks would be centered on security and trade while thanking Japan for “sending many auto companies into Michigan and Ohio and Pennsylvania, North Carolina and a lot of our states,” according to the Japan Times.
“I see they are building all over the United States,” Trump continued. “A lot of the great Japanese car companies, other Japanese companies also, but in particular the car companies. Magnificent plants. We haven’t had that, and we very much appreciate it.”
.@realDonaldTrump: If Japan is attacked we will fight World War III but “if we are attacked Japan doesn’t have to help us at all. They can watch it on the SONY television. The attack. So there is a little difference.” pic.twitter.com/q95ZuvRinE— Satoshi Sugiyama (@SatoshiJournal) June 26, 2019
For Abe, Trump may be a monster withtwo faces: a golf-loving buddy who can defend Japan from China and North Korea, and a potential rival who could suddenly release pent-up frustrations on sensitive trade and security issues.
Thus it doesn't appear Tokyo is too concerned by Trump's vented "frustrations" expressed during the "They can watch it on a Sony television" remarks.
Following the meeting Japan's Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura noted Trump's prior mocking remarks of the defense treaty weren't raised during Friday's summit meeting.
“The two leaders agreed to further strengthen the unshakable Japan-U.S. alliance as they have done in the past,” Nishimura said. “There was no discussion of revising the Japan-U.S. security treaty at all,” he said.