Donald Trump began a tour of Asia with a warning that “no dictator” should underestimate America, in a thinly veiled reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
“No one, no dictator, no regime … should underestimate American resolve,” Trump told the military and women after landing at Yokota Air Base near Tokyo on Sunday on the first leg of his trip to five. country.
“You are the greatest threat to tyrants and dictators who seek to prey on the innocent,” he said, adding that authoritarian regimes could also take the path “to prosperity and peace”.
âNo nation should ever underestimate American resolve,â said Trump, who did not refer to North Korea by name. âFrom time to time in the past, they have underestimated us. It wasn’t pleasant for them, was it? We will never give in, never falter, and never falter in defense of our people, our freedom and our great American flag. “
North Korea marked Trump’s arrival in Japan by warning the “spiritually unstable” president not to make “irresponsible remarks” about the Pyongyang regime.
The Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the ruling Workers’ Party, claimed that American voters were pushing for Trump’s impeachment for fear he would bring “nuclear catastrophe” to the Americas.
The newspaper quoted Republican Senator Bob Corker, who recently accused Trump of supporting the United States in a corner against North Korea as telling Secretary of State Rex Tillerson he was “wasting his time” trying to negotiate with Pyongyang.
“If the United States judges badly [North Koreaâs] the harshest will and dares to act recklessly, the latter will be forced to inflict on the former a resolute and ruthless punishment with the mobilization of all forces, “the newspaper said in a commentary directed by the official news agency KCNA .
In what many believe is a low-risk start to a 12-day visit that will include stops in South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, Trump praised the U.S. military and their counterparts in Japan, a “partner precious and crucial ally â.
Trump then flew by helicopter to a private golf club north of Tokyo for an informal burger lunch – believed to have been made with American beef – with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The two signed white caps bearing the message: “Donald and Shinzo make the alliance even greater”. The officers were joined by Japanese golfer Hideki Matsuyama and went on to play nine holes at Kasumigaseki Country Club, which only recently allowed women to become full members.
Trump, who reportedly befriended Abe during a round of golf at his Florida estate earlier this year, has been heard describe the course as “magnificent.” The US president described Matsuyama as a “long hitter,” but added, “I hit the ball long enough. He admitted, however, that the Japanese player was likely to outrun him initially. “If I come back and say I was longer than him, don’t believe it,” Trump told reporters en route to Japan.
Abe tweeted that he had a “heated conversation” on the course with his “wonderful friend”, while Trump posted a short video clip of itself on the fairway. White House officials said none of the players scored.
Earlier, in another remark apparently directed at Pyongyang, Trump said that US forces “always, always win.” It is the legacy of the United States armed forces, the greatest force for freedom and justice the world has ever known. “
Abe should ask Trump for assurances of Washington’s firm commitment to security in an unstable Asia-Pacific region.
North Korea has launched two ballistic missiles over northern Japan in recent months and threatened to conduct a hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific Ocean to demonstrate that it has developed the means to threaten the Americas with nuclear weapons.
Trump said the US-Japan alliance has been the cornerstone of regional security for the past six decades, adding: “We rule the skies, we rule the sea, we rule the land and space.”
In what appeared to be a break with his prepared script, Trump promised the assembled troops that they would receive “a lot more” defense gear. âNobody does it like they do in the United States. Lots of things happen – use them well.
In September, he said he would also allow Japan and South Korea to purchase “highly sophisticated” US military equipment to counter the North Korean threat.
Trump and Abe were scheduled to attend a private dinner, accompanied by a performance of the Japanese viral hit Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen. On Monday, Trump, accompanied by the first lady, Melania, will meet with the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Later, he will speak with Abe and meet relatives of Japanese citizens who were kidnapped by North Korean spies during the Cold War.
Japan is the least taxing leg of Trump’s journey, the longest Asian tour for a US president since George Bush in 1992.
Abe has always supported the president’s tough stance on North Korea – support Trump praised in his speech.
“Japan is a precious partner and a crucial ally of the United States and today we thank them for welcoming us and the decades of wonderful friendship between our two nations,” he said, after swapping his jacket. suit against a bomber jacket. “On behalf of the United States of America, I extend the warmest wishes of the American people to the citizens of this remarkable country.”
But he can expect a more cautious welcome from South Korean President Moon Jae-in when he arrives in Seoul on Tuesday. Trump’s belligerent rhetoric aimed at Kim Jong-un has unsettled Moon, a liberal who said this week that no military action should be taken on the Korean Peninsula without his consent.
Trump defended his provocative comments about the North Korean nuclear crisis en route to Japan from Hawaii earlier Sunday. âWe want to solve it. This is a big problem for our country and the world, and we want to solve it, âhe told reporters aboard Air Force One.
“And there have been 25 years of total weakness and so we are taking a very different approach,” he added, without giving details.
He said he plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on his trip. “I think we are expected to meet,” he said. “We want Putin’s help on North Korea.”
The tour comes at a precarious time for Trump. Days earlier, his former campaign chairman had been indicted and another adviser had pleaded guilty as part of an investigation into possible collusion between his 2016 campaign and Russian officials.
Jonathan Pollack, a senior researcher at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said the trip came “at a very inconvenient time for the president. It is subject to growing national vulnerabilities that we are all experiencing from hour to hour, âhe said.
“The conjunction of these problems leads to a palpable sense of unease over the potential crisis in Korea.”