How does Trump’s triumph impact Japan?


Prof. Takita speaks to Hakumon Herald



Donald Trump appeals to the audiences during his presidential election campaign. Jiji Photo
Donald Trump appeals to the audiences during his presidential election campaign. Jiji Photo

The results of the U.S. presidential election on November 8 defied all prediction across the world. Surprisingly, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton who had been strongly favored by influential media like The New York Times lost by a razor-thin margin to Republican nominee Donald Trump. The real-estate mogul had constantly made offensive remarks on immigration and other sensitive issues during his campaign, sparking a lot of controversy both at home and abroad. President Barack Obama sharply criticized him in August, saying, “The Republican nominee is unfit to serve as president.” Yet Trump emerged victorious from the neck-and-neck race. He will be sworn in as the 45th American president on January 20, 2017. How do pundits view this consequence? Prof. Kenji Takita, of Chuo University’s Faculty of Law, who is familiar with American politics, gave the following remarks during his interview with Hakumon Herald.



Trump voiced frustration of middle-class white Americans


Trump supporters rally on the street. Picture is taken by Elvert Barnes.
Trump supporters rally on the street. Picture is taken by Elvert Barnes.

Takita: I think Trump’s victory can be analyzed from three factors. A matured globalization was a remote factor. The U.S. economy took hold of world hegemony by capitalizing on the Internet technology after the Cold War. To ensure its further prosperity, it needed to promote free cross-border movement of people, goods and capital, that is, globalization. The U.S.-orchestrated globalization, or so-called Americanization, got off to a good start.

 滝田 「トランプ氏の勝利は3つの要素から分析できる。遠因は行き過ぎたグローバリゼーションだ。冷戦終結後、インターネット技術の応用でアメリカ経済は世界で覇権を握った。さらなる繁栄のためにはヒト・モノ・カネのボーダーレス化、つまりグローバリゼーションが必要だった。アメリカ主導のグローバリゼーション、いわばアメリカナイゼーションの滑り出しは良好だった。

  However, that turned out to be a double-edged sword. American manufacturers moved their production facilities one after another to China and other emerging countries in pursuit of cheaper labor. Low-priced goods produced there flooded the American market. In consequence, they pushed up the country’s unemployment rate.


  The mess the globalization brought to American society was an intermediary factor. The country’s tax system that had guaranteed the quality of people’s living fell apart. A failure of wealth redistribution ensued. While big businesses and vested interest groups who got government backing basked in economic growth, middle-class citizens could not partake in its fruit. Their predicament can be accounted by a proximate factor, notably the hike of tuition fees and medicare insurance reforms enforced in a recession.


  It was at this timing that Trump jumped on the bandwagon. Touting his “America First” approach, he vowed to dispel the anxiety and grievances of middle-class white Americans by dismantling the Obamacare (Medicare reforms), creating jobs through promotion of protectionist trade policies, tightening controls on undocumented immigrants and specific religious groups, and restoring peace and security at home. Those Americans must have felt strong empathy with Trump who looked to voice their frustration.


  On the other hand, the Hilary camp had not pinpointedly delivered to the voters her will to bring about dramatic changes. I would say that the Trump team succeeded in its strategy to elaborately analyze concerns closest to civic life, translate them into short messages and drive them home to the constituents.



Call for more funding support for U.S. forces in Japan


Prof. Kenji Takita speaks during his lecture at Chuo University.
Prof. Kenji Takita speaks during his lecture at Chuo University.

  Takita: I cannot but call Trump’s ideas about diplomacy and security too easy and simplistic. They might have been understandable as campaign gimmicks. However, a pullout of the U.S. forces in Japan and an arbitrary hike of tariffs could consequently put greater pressure on the lives of American citizens. His way of sending simplified messages was effective in achieving a short-term goal, in this case, winning over the undecided voters.

滝田 「トランプ氏の外交・安全保障についての発想は安易だと言わざるを得ない。選挙を有利に進めるためのテクニックだったことは理解できるが、在日米軍撤退や恣意的な関税の引き上げは、結果的に自国民の生活を圧迫させることになる。物事を単純化して伝えることは短期的な利益、つまり得票数を上げるうえで効果的だった。

  However, diplomacy is something that should be considered from a long-term perspective. Diplomatic ties, once impaired, cannot be easily restored. As soon as Trump takes office, he will be held responsible to uphold the support he got from his nation and the rest of the world. His adherence to the hardline approaches wouldn’t prove to Washington’s advantage. For these reasons, I don’t think his new administration will put all his personal views on its policy agenda. Yet Washington may step up its call on Tokyo to pay more to keep the U.S. military presence in Japan by referring to what the Japanese government calls “host nation support.” I think how Tokyo will respond to such demand will become a major issue, given that more than 70% of the U.S. military bases in Japan are concentrated in Okinawa Prefecture.


(Interviewed by: Hideki Kato)



Prof. Kenji Takita’s brief profile

略歴 滝田賢治教授


Born in the city of Yokohama in 1946, Mr. Kenji Takita earned his bachelor degree in English studies at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies in 1970. He entered the Graduate School of Law (International Relations), the Faculty of Law, Hitotsubashi University the following year and completed his Ph.D. there in 1977. After working as a part-time lecturer at Saitama University in 1978, he joined Chuo University as a junior associate professor in 1979, became an associate professor in 1980 and was promoted to professor in 1987. His major is history of international politics, economics and American politics. From 1991 to 1993, he taught at the Institute for Sino-Soviet Studies of George Washington University as a visiting fellow. Prof. Takita is to mandatorily retire from Chuo in March 2017. He is scheduled to give his last lecture on January 17 at Room 8302.