#TrumpInAsia: 'Era of strategic patience with North Korea is over'
US President Donald Trump has kick-started his East Asia tour with a visit to Japan. As expected, his discussions with Japanese PM Shinzo Abe revolved largely around the North Korea crisis. Trump described the North's nuclear antics as "a threat to the civilized world." Speaking alongside Abe, he indicated that "the era of strategic patience with Pyongyang is over." Here's more about it.
Trump begins Asia tour with Japan
On November 5, Trump arrived in Japan at the start of his marathon Asia tour. He was cheered on by US and Japanese troops at the Yokota air base near Tokyo. Trump said that no country should underestimate US "resolve", and pledged to ensure that the Japanese and US troops had enough resources to defend freedom amidst heightened tensions with North Korea.
Growing nuclear threats from North Korea
In July, North Korea tested an Inter-continental ballistic-missile (ICBM) which purportedly brought the entire US within its strike range. In August, it threatened to launch a nuclear attack on the US-Pacific territory of Guam in response to Trump threatening it with "fire and fury." In September, Pyongyang tested a Hydrogen-bomb in its sixth and most powerful test and fired a second missile over Japan.
What did Trump say?
Speaking at a news conference alongside Abe, Trump termed Pyongyang's nuclear program "a threat to the civilized world and international peace and stability." He signaled an end to Obama-era policies on North Korea, saying, "the era of strategic patience is over." Trump also conveyed his openness to dialogue and referred to North Koreans as "great people" being ruled by a "repressive regime."
Other highlights from Trump's Japan visit
Abe and Trump enjoyed each others' company after hitting a golf course and over dinners and lunches. The trip was also filled with amusing moments including when Trump dumped a whole box of fish-food into a lake while feeding fish after seemingly losing patience. In a instance of friction amid emerging bonhomie, Trump blasted US-Japan trade relations and sought to eliminate trade imbalances.
Dealing with Pyongyang: Diplomacy or military?
World powers, including the US, China, Japan, and Russia have mooted diplomatic and military options in handling Pyongyang. Trump has frequently hinted that he doesn't believe diplomacy would work with Pyongyang and has indicated that he favors a military approach to handle Pyongyang. Meanwhile, China, Russia, and other major powers have emphasized the imposition of economic sanctions and dialogue as a way out.
What's next on Trump's itinerary?
Trump's tour of Asia will be the longest undertaken by a US president in 25 years. After Japan, Trump is scheduled to visit South Koreas, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. He is also scheduled to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.