WASHINGTON —U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has denied suggesting that countries such as Japan and South Korea should go nuclear, while an aide to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrived in Washington on Monday to prepare for a meeting Thursday between Trump and Abe in New York.
Referring to a New York Times article published Sunday, Trump tweeted the same day that the paper said Trump “believes ‘more countries should acquire nuclear weapons.’ How dishonest are they. I never said this!”
In March, The New York Times reported that the then Republican presidential candidate said in an interview that he would be open to allowing Japan and South Korea to develop their own nuclear arsenal.
If the United States keeps on “its path, its current path of weakness, they’re going to want to have that anyway, with or without me discussing it,” Trump was quoted as saying.
The comment was taken to indicate that he would tolerate Tokyo and Seoul building their own nuclear weapons rather than depending on the U.S. nuclear umbrella for their defense against North Korea and China.
On Monday, Katsuyuki Kawai, a special adviser to Abe, met with William Studeman in Washington, a former director of the National Security Agency, who is believed to have close ties with Trump.
Speaking to reporters after the talks, Kawai said he conveyed Abe’s willingness to “swiftly build the highest level of relationship of personal trust with the president-elect.”
“There will be no leaders in the world who the president-elect can count on as much as Prime Minister Abe,” he said.
Kawai, however, said he did not talk with Studeman about specific issues such as Trump’s demand that Japan increase its share of the costs for U.S. troops stationed in the country and his pledge to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a yet-to-be ratified free trade agreement involving 12 Pacific Rim countries.
Kawai said he is arranging talks with senior members of Trump’s transition team during his three-day stay in Washington through Wednesday before joining Abe in Thursday’s meeting with Trump in New York.