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Japan denies report of Trump remarks on decades-old defense pact

By Elizabeth Shim
Japan denies report of Trump remarks on decades-old defense pact
U.S. President Donald Trump's alleged remarks on the U.S.-Japan security treaty drew a response from the Japanese government on Tuesday. File Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/EPA-EFE

June 25 (UPI) -- Japan has moved to swiftly deny a press report suggesting U.S. President Donald Trump is considering withdrawing from the 1951 U.S.-Japan security treaty.

Tokyo's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters on Tuesday the report has been confirmed as false with the White House, The Japan Times reported Tuesday.

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"There is no such talk as is mentioned in the report. We have confirmed with the U.S. president that [the report] is inconsistent with the American government's position," Suga said Tuesday evening, local time.

According to Bloomberg, Trump had described the defense pact, which obligates the United States to come to Japan's defense if the country falls under attack, as a "one-sided" deal.

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The report quoted three "people familiar with the matter" who spoke on the condition of anonymity, and said that the White House communications staff declined to comment on the report.

Trump also reportedly said Japan's self-defense forces are not obligated to come to the United States' assistance, and that he seeks a more reciprocal relationship.

Japan permits the United States to use parts of its territory for U.S. military bases, but the president has also complained U.S. allies like Japan do not pay their fair share for the "privilege" of keeping U.S. troops on the ground, according to Bloomberg.

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The report of Trump's "private" musings contradict earlier statements from the president, when he visited Japan for his summit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"The U.S.-Japan alliance has never been stronger," Trump said on the USS Wasp in May.

Analysts told The Japan Times the Trump administration may have leaked the statements to secure a better trade deal with Japan; the deadline for a deal is August.

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Ryo Sahashi, an associate professor of international politics at the University of Tokyo, said the report is a "gift" to Abe's political opponents ahead of July elections.

Abe received a vote of no confidence from opposition parties on Tuesday for his handling of pension policy, but Tokyo's House of Representatives voted down the motion, according to Jiji Press.

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