Any normal statesman would know how to talk about anything sensitive pretty much anywhere. And then we have Donald Trump. He’s in Japan right now, touting our military prowess and our overall strength, and generally being the “Don’t mess with us, you won’t like the results” pseudo-badass he thinks he is.
Except…he’s in Japan. And he’s actually being tone-deaf. While speaking publicly, he actually said:
No dictator, no regime, and no nation should underestimate ever, American resolve. Every once and a while in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?”
To be sure, he was speaking to our troops stationed there. But…he’s in effing Japan. We’re the only country on the planet ever to use nuclear weapons and we used them on Japan. We did a number on them, and they haven’t forgotten that any more than we’ve forgotten Pearl Harbor. The difference is we’re allies now who are supposed to have moved past it – but that doesn’t make it okay to rub Japan’s nose in the destruction we caused there.
The above is the English version of what he said. The Japanese translation was much worse:
Unfortunately, the Japanese subtitles make him sound particularly tone deaf “Those who underestimated us in the past didn’t meet a good end” pic.twitter.com/YdPEV174dm
— Hiroko Tabuchi (@HirokoTabuchi) November 5, 2017
No, this was definitely not the right thing to say. The right thing to say would have been, well, pretty much anything else. Talking about banding together against North Korea, or perhaps about the growth and strength of our current alliance with Japan, would have been better. Heck, keeping his damn mouth shut on the issue altogether would have been better.
This is made worse by the fact that Trump’s reputation with Japan is already on shaky ground. In 2016, he basically said it was time for us to cut Japan loose militarily, and even suggested they become a nuclear power so they could deal with North Korea themselves. He also asked whether Obama would ever discuss Pearl Harbor in such a way that it was clear we still hold a grudge:
Does President Obama ever discuss the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor while he’s in Japan? Thousands of American lives lost. #MDW
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2016
In short, Trump has just humiliated us again. Can we duct tape his mouth shut at the very least?
Featured image via Jim Lo Scalzo – Pool/Getty Images