Saturday, June 18, 2016

Not Everyone in Japan Thinks Donald Trump Is Kawaii

How Trump fares in Japan’s tabloids

The Japan Times  by Mark Schreiber  Special To The Japan Times Jun 18, 2016 

If Japan’s weekly magazines appear to be devoting an inordinate amount of space to coverage of U.S. politics this election year, it’s thanks largely to the flamboyant antics of Donald Trump, who can be counted on for verbal outbursts and surprises.

Take weekly magazine Shukan Gendai (June 11), which is predicting an ominous “X-Day” — a local euphemism for a date when something big is about to happen — on July 18. The magazine raises the possibility that an assassin will go gunning for the presumptive presidential nominee at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

“There’s already been a flood of messages with predictions of Trump’s assassination,” Robert Baer, a former CIA case officer who spent years on assignment in the Middle East, tells the magazine. According to Baer, when an intelligence organization confiscated laptop computers from several Saudi nationals in Lebanon, the computers’ drives were found to contain detailed particulars of Trump’s scheduled appearances.

“If Trump were to become president, security around him would become that much tighter, so for anybody planning to kill him, now’s the time,” said Baer, author of “The Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins” (2014) and a frequent commentator on CNN.

The Shukan Gendai article also quoted a former FBI investigator who said the bureau has got wind of several plots against Trump.

“The Secret Service has already begun providing Trump with protection. However, in the course of the campaign, security is not total,” he pointed out. “If an assassin is really determined, killing Trump won’t be that difficult.”

The scenario envisaged by Japanese military writer Buntaro Kuroi goes like this: As Trump mounts the rostrum to address the nominating convention in Cleveland, he’ll be blown to smithereens by a rocket-propelled grenade fired from a drone remotely controlled by an Islamic extremist whose aim is to bring down America’s most controversial politician.

Turning back to the real world, in Sapio magazine (July), political commentator Nobuhiko Ochiai looks back at the events of 1968, particularly the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, which he said marked the start of America’s decline. Coming on the heels of Kennedy’s brother’s murder five years earlier, things continued to go downhill, with Richard Nixon’s election, the war in Vietnam, the Watergate scandal, etc. And while eight years under Ronald Reagan and the collapse of the Soviet Union seemed to restore some of the glitter, the three presidents who followed — Bush, president No. 41, and Bush, No. 43, with Bill Clinton in the interim — as well as the White House’s current inhabitant, have been unable to reverse the downward spiral.

“What will Trump say in his inaugural address?” Ochiai wonders. “Just imagining it makes me laugh. But at the same time, considering that the new president’s political appointees are likely to be concerned only with acquiring money and power, I’m left with a vague sense of dread.”

In the same issue of Sapio, business consultant Kenichi Ohmae does the math on Trump’s demand that Japan pick up the full tab for U.S. bases in Japan or face withdrawal. He concludes the latter might not necessarily be a bad thing. To name one example, Ohmae points out that the reversion of Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo to Japanese control would free up the air corridors over Kanto, as civilian flights to and from Haneda or Narita airport are currently obliged to take circuitous routes to avoid U.S. military-controlled airspace. Another possible plus would be less adversarial relations with Russia. With Japan no longer entangled in the struggles for hegemony between foreign powers, there’s a chance that Russia may become more amenable to returning the Japanese Northern Territories they’ve been occupying since 1945.

On the financial implications of the upcoming U.S. election, Mizuho Research Institute analyst Akihiko Yasui writes in Shukan Economist magazine (June 21) that the value of the Japanese yen is likely to appreciate against the U.S. dollar in the near future as both Trump and Hillary Clinton favor a weaker U.S. dollar to increase American exports. Irrespective of the outcome of November’s election. he advises financial managers to hedge their risks by diversifying the currencies in their portfolios.
Finally, as this article was going to press, stories have begun considering the political repercussions of the June 12 fatal shooting of 49 patrons in a Florida nightclub by an Afghan-American. Will Trump’s pledge to exclude Muslim immigration into the U.S. make the difference in the outcome of the coming election?

“It’s certain that the terrorist incident has given Trump a boost,” remarked international journalist Yoshio Hotta in Yukan Fuji (June 15). “After hearing repeated exhortations by liberals such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, a sense of resignation has been spreading among Americans and their sentiments are shifting toward ‘Shall we let Trump have a go at it?’ But if that were to happen, Muslims already in the U.S. might be driven to desperation, soon leading to more terrorist acts.”

It goes without saying that Japan’s weekly tabloids are not bound by the same rules of political correctness as the U.S. media. But while we might scoff at Shukan Gendai’s off-the-wall “X-Day” predictions, there’s at least one precedent in living memory: On June 5, 1968, the Democratic Party’s front-runner, Robert F. Kennedy, was fatally gunned down after winning the California primary. An immigrant from the Middle East was convicted of the crime, and is currently serving a life sentence at a U.S. prison. Still, even among American voters who viscerally detest Trump, that’s one piece of history no one wants to see repeated.

If you’re wondering about the strange pictures in this article, they didn’t come with it originally, go HERE to see the video they came from.


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