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Japan Warns Trump: ‘Don’t Do a Deal With China If You Win’

Tokyo is worried after Trump defended his relationship with China’s Xi Jinping last time out, and even sought a nuclear deal with North Korea

Tokyo worries Trump may be prepared to weaken US support for nearby Taiwan.


Japan fears US presidential hopeful Donald Trump could, if he wins this year’s election, strike a deal with Xi Jinping’s China that would undo years of work to rein in Beijing.

Tokyo, America’s closest ally in Asia, has stepped up its attempts to engage with people close to Trump in recent weeks, as the 77-year-old’s victories in Republican primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire have seen him emerge in some polls as the frontrunner in November’s presidential election.

The outreach, detailed in interviews with six Japanese officials, much of it previously unreported, comes as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida prepares for an April state visit to the US at President Joe Biden’s invitation.

Japan’s endeavours have included dispatching a senior ruling-party figure to try to meet Trump, and engagement by Japanese diplomats with think tanks and former US officials aligned with Trump, three of the officials said.

Top of Tokyo’s worry list is that if Trump returns to power he may seek some kind of trade or security deal between the world’s top two economies that could undermine recent efforts by the Group of Seven (G7) wealthy nations to counter China, according to the six officials.

Trump, who reached a trade agreement with Beijing in 2019 that later expired, has not mentioned any potential deal with China during his campaign for the 2024 nomination.


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The Japanese officials said they had no specific knowledge of Trump’s plans, but they based their concerns on his public comments and actions during his 2017-2021 term, in which he eschewed some multilateral cooperation, defended his relationships with authoritarian leaders such as China’s Xi Jinping, and unsuccessfully sought a nuclear deal with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Two Japanese foreign ministry officials said they fear that Trump may be prepared to weaken US support for nearby Taiwan in pursuit of a deal with China. They said such a move could embolden Beijing, which claims Taiwan and has not ruled out seizing the island by force.

A Trump aide told Reuters that no recent meetings have taken place between Trump and Japanese officials. They would not comment further.

Asked in an interview with Fox News in July 2023 whether the US should help defend Taiwan if it means going to war with China, Trump said: “If I answer that question, it will put me in a very bad negotiating position. With that being said, Taiwan did take all of our chip business. We used to make our own chips. Now they’re made in Taiwan.”

Tokyo also worries that Trump may again hit Japan with protectionist trade measures such as tariffs on steel, and revive demands for it to pay more toward the cost of stationing US forces in the country, according to the six Japanese officials.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

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Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.


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