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29 Aug, 2018 11:06

Trump told Japan’s Abe he ‘remembers Pearl Harbor,’ Washington Post says. Didn’t happen, Tokyo says

Trump told Japan’s Abe he ‘remembers Pearl Harbor,’ Washington Post says. Didn’t happen, Tokyo says

Japan denies that US President Donald Trump launched a surprise attack against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe by bringing up Pearl Harbor during trade talks, contrary to a report by the Washington Post.

The episode described by the Washington Post allegedly happened during a Trump-Abe meeting in June to discuss trade. Trump is not happy with the trade deficit and wants Tokyo to consent to a deal more favorable to the US.

According to the newspaper, at one point during the meeting, the US president said: “I remember Pearl Harbor.” He then launched into a “blistering critique of Japan’s economic policies.” The piece is mostly based on the words of a number of anonymous sources in the US State Department, the White House, and the Japanese government. It details the personal relations between Trump and Abe, whether or not their personal chemistry mitigated the tensions over trade, and whether Japan would be less willing to turn a blind eye to American trade restrictions in the future.

The juicy detail about the remark on the surprise Japanese attack during World War II understandably received a lot of attention in the US. Some Trump critics felt yet again justified in their opinion that the president is an incompetent diplomat, or worse.

The accuracy of the account about the Pearl Harbor tirade is, however, questionable. A spokesman for the Japanese government on Wednesday said Trump didn’t say it. “There is no truth” to it, Yoshihide Suga told the media, as cited by Kyodo News.

But apparently, the Washington Post was correct when it said Japan held a secret meeting with North Korea in Vietnam in July without informing the US. The US newspaper claims the meeting, which was not previously made public, was a sign of Tokyo’s frustration with Washington. Japanese officials, however, would not comment on that part.

In addition to regional security concerns over North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and rocket technologies amid the decades-long conflict with the US and its allies, Japan has its own issues to settle with Pyongyang. Arguably, the main one is North Korea’s record of abducting Japanese citizens in the 1970s, which is a matter of bitter national sentiment in Japan. Tokyo is reportedly concerned that Washington will not give this issue proper attention when negotiating with the North Koreans.

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