2) Cozying up to North Korea
Abe could be excused for feeling whiplash over Trump’s pendulum approach to Pyongyang. First, Abe scrambled to adjust to Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric and assurances his generals are “totally prepared for numerous things.” Tokyo was out of the loop again as Trump suddenly agreed to meet with Kim Jong Un.
Now, the pendulum may be swinging back to confrontation with the selection of John Bolton as national security adviser. Hawkish though Abe may be, it petrifies Japan that the author of a February Wall Street Journal column titled “The Legal Case for Striking North Korea First” now has Trump’s ear.
National security wags in Tokyo still buzz about April 6, the day Trump fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria, winning effusive praise. That day, arguably, was the high point of Trump’s presidency, foreign policy-wise. As scandals and investigations mount, it’s a high Trump might be keen to relive — this time by firing at a much more dangerous target: North Korea. Abe’s Japan, a key U.S. ally in striking distance, would be an obvious retaliation target for Kim.