By Kiyoshi Takenaka
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe aims to underscore the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance when he meets President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said on Sunday.
“This is going to be an important meeting to build trust,” Kishida told public broadcaster NHK. “We also would like to use this opportunity to input the importance of the Japan-U.S. alliance, as well.”
With Abe set to meet Trump in New York on his way to an Asia-Pacific summit in Peru, Tokyo has been seeking clarity on what direction the Republican political novice wants for bilateral relations after he made comments on the campaign trail that were at odds with longstanding policies.
Kishida reiterated Japan’s long-standing position that it has no plans to possess nuclear weapons. During his campaign, Trump left open the possibility that Japan – the only country to have suffered a nuclear bombing – might adopt nuclear weapons.
“I don’t believe Japan will possess nuclear arms. This principle won’t change,” Kishida said.
Trump’s campaign comments on Japan’s nuclear armament and his demand that Japan pay more for the upkeep of U.S. forces on its soil have worried Tokyo about a possible rift in a security alliance with Washington that has been the bedrock of its defense since World War Two.
Defence Minister Tomomi Inada told the same NHK program that Japan is already shouldering enough financial burden to support U.S. troops deployed in Japan.
“Japan is making sufficient contribution,” she said. “I would like to continue underscoring that Japan is going to strengthen its own defense posture both in quality and quantity, strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance and strengthen ties with other relevant countries.”
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by William Mallard and Michael Perry)