This TV Asahi link, posted on May 20th, is an optimistic pre-departure report on President Trump’s 5-nation overseas trip. It touches on all the good things that one would expect to hear about the President of the United States. It mentions how Trump will be visiting the holy places associated with Islam, Judaism, and Christianity with the aim of encouraging world peace. It goes on to describe Trump’s goals in Saudi Arabia (where he’ll be pushing for policy to be written against both ISIS and Iran), in Israel (where he’ll be looking for a common thread for peace between Palestine and Israel), and in Italy (where he’ll have an audience with the Pope, who has been openly against Trump’s immigration policies, and then of course attending the G7).
Indeed, world peace is something all Americans (regardless of their support for Trump or lack thereof) and Japanese people can get behind. With this in mind, visiting Holy Lands of the world’s three major religions certainly sounded like a nice gesture. But then to go on and say that Trump will be looking towards Saudi Arabia for support in anti-Iran policy does not really sound like a solid plan towards world peace–just more of the ‘Us vs Them‘ that we have been hearing all along. ISIS is just as much an enemy of Iran as it is with America. Remember the idea that ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend‘? The President would be wise to remember this.
As for brokering peace between Palestine and Israel–yeah, good luck with that.
And meeting with the Pope–I can not for the life of me understand why Trump would want to meet with the Pope, however this blogger is glad that he is. The soft power of Pope Francis is not to be under estimated. God willing, the encounter will have some positive effect on at least one person in the Trump entourage–hopefully enough of an effect to sway the administration’s course.
As for this trip’s effects on Japan, Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia and participation in the G7 will cause the most concern. Japan has a benevolent relationship with Iran. There are quite a few Iranian scholars and researchers in Japan, including here at Akita University. Any new, stricter US sanctions against Iran that Trump wants to hash out with Saudi Arabia could cause problems for Japan.
As for ISIS and the greater threat of terror, Japan has not been immune. A few Japanese citizens were killed in an Islamic terrorist attack in Bangladesh last year, and a Japanese reporter (Kenji Goto 後藤健二) was taken hostage and murdered by ISIS in 2015.
Japan would be happy with any measures the Trump administration could take against ISIS, but nobody benefits from Trump refusing to at least trying to make US-Iran relations more amicable.