President Donald Trump has arrived in Japan on the first leg of his marathon tour of East Asia.
Trump and his wife, Melania, the first lady of the United States, landed just before 11am local time on Sunday at Yakota Air Base just outside of Tokyo.
Trump will now speak to Japanese and American troops stationed at Yakota.
He will be flanked by two fighter jets flown in just for the occasion – a F-16 from the Misawa Air Base in Japan and a F-35 from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, a U.S. military official said. A C -130 transport plane that’s regularly assigned to Yakota nosed into the hanger as part of the display of American force.
After the remarks have concluded, the president and prime minister will enjoy a leisurely lunch and catch up over a round of golf.
President Trump waves from the steps of Air Force One after arriving at Yakota Air Base just outside of Tokyo
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived in Japan on the first leg of his marathon tour of East Asia
President Donald Trump and Melania arrive at Yakota Air Base just outside of Tokyo
President Trump salutes as he disembarks from Air Force One at Yakota Air Base
Members of U.S. military services and Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF) wait for the arrival of U.S. President Donald Trump at U.S. Air Force Yokota Air Base in Fussa
Hideki Matsuyama, currently the No. 4 ranked pro golfer in the world, will join Trump and Abe on the course, where the U.S. president is likely to play with the golden driver Abe gifted him last year.
Mrs Abe will separately host Mrs Trump for tea and take her sightseeing.
A major U.S. Air Force Base in Japan, Yakota would play a significant role in any conflict in the Indo-Pacific region, as U.S. officials are now calling it.
‘We’re the central hub for all of the Indo-Asian Pacific region, so everything flies through here,’ said Captain Jared Abramowicz, 27, the officer in charge of the base’s budget, confirming that the theater extends beyond Japan to South Korea.
Colonel John Hutchinson said the base and it’s squadron of C-130J ‘Super Hercules’ transport aircraft would be able to ‘provide tactical airlift support all over the Pacific.’
‘All of our bases in Japan would play a major role,’ he told DailyMail.com in reference to a potential conflict with Norea Korea.
Abramowicz described the U.S.-Japanese relationship at the base ‘a team alliance,’ saying the foreign power provides ‘great support’ to the American troops stationed at Yakota.
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump wave goodbye from Air Force One as they prepared to leave Hawaii
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump greet people before departing for a 10 day Asia trip from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu
On the campaign trail, Trump said he wanted the Japan to pay for more of its defense, telling CNN in a May 2016 interview, ‘Of course they should pick up all the expense. Why are we paying for this?’
‘You know we have a treaty with Japan where if Japan is attacked, we have to use the full force and might of the United States,’ Trump said at an August rally. ‘If we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to do anything. They can sit home and watch Sony television, OK?’
Trump has repeatedly claimed the U.S. is paying ‘50 per cent of the cost’ for U.S. troops in Japan. The Japanese defense ministry said in January that it contributes closer to 86.4 per cent of the funds, per the Japan Times.
Abramowicz, the base budget director at Yakota, said Sunday that ‘we pay for a lot of’ the finances at the location but sidestepped questions about how much the U.S. contributes versus Japan.
Japan’s Defense Ministry requested an overall budget of ¥5.26 trillion, or $48 billion, for its military in the 2018 fiscal year, a record high for the country, earlier this year.
Last month Abe’s party secured control over Japan’s government for four more years with a landslide victory in the nation’s general election.
‘Clearly, there’s a mandate, I think. The president, when he spoke to congratulate Prime Minister Abe on the big election win earlier this month, spoke of the mandate that he has,’ a U.S. official told reporters on Tuesday in response to a question about Trump’s past statements on Japan’s military expenditures. ‘And part of his mandate clearly is, of course, that of any leader’s, which is to defend the Japanese people and uphold his alliance.’
In the evening, the couples will reunite for dinner at Ginza Ukai Tei (pictured), a Japanese fine dining establishment
According to Reuters, new Japanese defense spending would fund upgrades to Japan’s ballistic missile defense system, six F-35 fighters, four V-22 Osprey tilt rotor troop carriers and new naval vessels.
Trump said in a September tweet, that he would be ‘allowing Japan & South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States.’ He did not say what equipment the U.S. intends to sell either country, however.
U.S. Air Force troops stationed at Yakota that work hand-in-hand with soldiers in Japan’s Air Self Defense Force made up the bulk of Trump’s audience on Sunday that included American troops from all branches of the military.
Among them was Dylan Steele, 23-year-old Marine Sgt. based at Camp Lejune in North Carolina who said he’s been in Japan for a few months on a training mission.
‘I’m just excited to see the commander in chief in person,’ the soldier said of the experience.
Steele said he wanted Trump to say: ‘Just that he’s excited to see how the forces are doing out here, and you know, anything that, anything that could be coming down from him.’
Abramowicz likewise said: ‘It’s gonna be an awesome opportunity to hear his perspective on Japan and protecting the region and such.’
With formal meetings on the books tomorrow with the Japanese government, Trump and Abe have casual plans this afternoon, separate from their wives.
In the evening, the couples reunite for dinner at Ginza Ukai Tei, a Japanese fine dining establishment that’s described on its English-language website as having an ‘atmosphere where art-nouveau and Japanese style meet, and it is just like a museum.’
Trump and Abe’s low-key Sunday precedes a day of rushed talks on Monday that will cover trade negotiations and North Korea’s unruliness. Trump will meet that afternoon with families of Japanese nationals whose loved ones were kidnapped by the North Korean government.
Trump and Abe’s (pictured together in February 2017) low-key Sunday precedes a day of rushed talks on Monday that will cover trade negotiations and North Korea’s unruliness
The U.S. president’s day begins with Japanese Emperor Akihito.
Tokyo is Trump’s first overseas stop on a 12-day race around the region. The U.S. president left Washington on Friday for Honolulu, Hawaii, which he used as a stopover on his way to Japan.
Trump will travel to South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines before he heads back.
A senior U.S. official told reporters ahead of Trump’s departure that the president’s trip ‘will reaffirm the U.S.-Japan alliance as a cornerstone for regional peace and security.’
‘The President’s meetings in Japan will focus on ways for the U.S. and Japan to work together to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific region,’ the official also said.
Trump and Abe became fast allies during an Oval Office meeting in February shortly after Trump took office. The U.S. president and his wife gave Mr and Mrs Abe a lift after that to the Palm Beach club that Trump retains ownership of.
The billionaire president’s guest for the weekend, Abe played a round of golf with Trump at the private resort.
Trump was seen making use of the $3,755 gold golf driver that Abe gifted him when he won the presidency during their Mar-a-Lago excursion.