--- President Trump will be coming to Japan soon. What do you think the significance of his trip will be?
Mr. Cartis: I guess there are three reasons three things he is going to focus on while he is here. One is to reaffirm the importance of the alliance and close personal relationship he has with Prime Minister Abe, which is I think safe presumption at this point. Second, to present the united front with Japan over being tough with North Korea. And third to discuss trade issues, bilateral trade issues. I guess that's the agenda.
I think he and PM Abe have a good personal good relationship and I think President Trump appreciates it because among US allies, I guess PM Abe is his best buddy. He has trouble with every other ally and he faces a lot of criticism not only from the leaders of these allied countries but from the public. But in Japan, PM Abe has good relationship and the public is so concerned about having strong relationship with the US that they're not critical of Trump very much.
I think the public face will be that we are united in the belief that the world has to impose the strongest possible sanctions on North Korea and not except it's developing its nuclear arsenal and missile capability. And I think this language about the military option is on the table is in fact more than on the table, the military option is a very real option that Trump is, the time is running out before we use it. And PM Abe will support that.
I think the public talk is aimed not at the public but at Kim Jong-Un. President Trump wants Kim Jong-Un to believe that he will use force, military force, to prevent it from having the capability to attack the US with the nuclear weapons. It's a high risk, very high risk strategy because if it works, Kim Jong-Un will somehow begin to back off. He will never give up the nuclear weapons he has, I don't believe, but perhaps there is an opening for negotiations to freeze the development. But there's a very good chance it won't work and that his, that is Kim's assessment will be that US will not attack him as long as he doesn't attack the US, but the US won't attack him even if he develops the capability because the US knows that if there is if they do the retaliation will be against our two most important allies in Asia; Japan and South Korea. So the danger here of this leading to war is growing almost daily. And I think so, so the message is to try to convince Kim Jong-Un to back off. If it doesn't work then President Trump is caught in a very difficult position of either conceding that North Korea is going to be a nuclear weapon state, whether we like it or not, and will have a deterrent capability but we won't be able to stop it. Or he will feel that he is going to be shown to be a paper Tiger if he doesn't act.
The other issue is the trade issue. That's hard to know how President Trump is going to play it when he is here. My view has been Aso-Pence deal was a very good clever a Japanese strategy to avoid having to deal with issues, push everything out to the future. So we will see when Trump gets here, how much how tough he is on this trade issues. I don't know I suspect that he will at least publicly will not be too hard because he really needs this relationship with PM Abe and with Japan, but I think we will see his one way or the other frustration with not making a lot of progress in the bilateral talks with Japan or anywhere else in that matter.
--- What kind of role should prime minister PM Abe play in dealing with North Korea?
Mr. Cartis: I would like to see what isn't going to happen which is the Japanese leadership which is PM Abe sort of talking about the purpose of sanctions is to get the North Koreans to agree to renegotiation, and negotiation that could lead to a settlement of the broader problems on Korean Peninsula. So far we haven't seen that language. I don't think we're going to see it next when he is here when President Trump is here but that is what you would like to see and that is what I would like to see.
Japan can say whatever it wants but it doesn't have that much of an impact, neither South Korea, even less. The real, the key to solving this problem lies in Washington and Beijing. And to some extent Moscow. So, but so that yes, even when PM Abe says what I've been suggesting that isn't going to turn the North Koreans around, but if it's said, it would be said because President Trump agrees that it should be said, PM Abe is not going to say this without Trump’s agreement, and if Trump agrees that means because some understating with the Chinese. But it also gives PM Abe a chance to play some kind of a leading role. I'm not Optimistic, I'm pessimistic about this North Korean situation. And I don't really disagree with President Trump's sanction policy. And he’s absolutely right that the policies in the past 25 years have not worked. And strictly eight years of Obama administration of strategic patients, was just free card for the North Koreans to develop their capability.
--- On US-Japan alliance, how do you evaluate PM Abe-Trump relationship?
Mr. Cartis: The relationship is very good. I think PM Abe has gotten Trump’s trust, to the extent that anybody has his trust. He's very impulsive and unpredictable and something can turn them off. But so far you got to give PM Abe a lot of credit for the way he has dealt this relationship with President Trump. He doesn't criticize President Trump, President Trump doesn't criticize him. So it's hard to fault PM Abe for the way he has dealt with President Trump. And unlike a lot of European countries, Germany and Britain and France, the public is not criticizing its leader for being nice to President Trump.
The other thing that I think is impressive is that PM Abe has not criticized President Trump but has taken steps to do things that don't agree with what President Trump wants to see happen. Like TPP 11. Like free trade agreement with the European union. Like developing bilateral ties with ASEAN, expanding bilateral ties with ASEAN countries looking towards kind of the East Asian free trade agreement. In other words, supporting multilateral trade and investment arrangements whereas President Trump talks about bilateral and it's not exactly under the radar but in a way it's done in a way that it's not confronting President Trump with a contrary policy but in many ways it is very contrary. And it serves Japan's interests. I think it serves the world’s interest for Japan to try to play a mogul role as a defender of the so-called liberal international order, even President Trump is out to destroy it. But somehow so far he's managed to do both; support President Trump, support multilateral arrangements and to find some kind of a higher profile role for Japan in Asia and in the world community generally. Yes I think recognize he's so far has done quite well.
--- Last year after the election, you said PM Abe could be the leading leader of Asian region because the President of the US is going to be Mr. Trump. Do you still think so?
Mr. Cartis: Not in the way I was thinking not the kind of optimism I had last year in that, what is in Japan's interest is so contrary to President Trump’s policies especially on trade, so contrary, that yes Japan can play a leading role in Asia but not as the kind of the surrogate for the US. I think in Japan is playing that kind some kind to some extent that role. But, at the end of the day, the real power in east Asia is in the hands of Beijing. And so one of the key issues for Japan, and I think actually the Abe administration or PM Abe understand it and try to deal with it. The key issue is whether Japan can develop a more positive relationship with Beijing, as well as these other Asian countries. I think the trend has actually been pretty good. There has been a decrease in tension. So, so far, I think that given all the constraints on Japan, it's doing very well.
We know from the history of the Pacific war. In 1941, the US strengthened sanctions against Japan and imposing embargo on oil exports, in the belief that that would force the Japanese government to back off from its invasion of China and so on. The consequence was that they decided to attack Pearl Harbor, rather than being strangled to death. in the hope that then the Americans will agree to some sort of peace negotiation, not realizing that that will just end the isolation sentiment against the US overnight and lead to a non-conditional surrender that resulted in an atomic bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That history lesson is very relevant to this current situation with North Korea. North Koreans may have exact react very much in the similar manner and think that some military action against US allies would force the US into some kind of negotiation. That's the recipe for major disaster tragedy.