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President Trump Addresses U.S. Troops in Japan; Aired 10-11p ET
Aired November 4, 2017 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here's what we know. Where he's going to be, we know who he's going to talk to, we know what time the state dinner is going to be in China, but what we can't really plan for and what none of these -- none of these leaders including Chinese President Xi Jinping can plan for, is the president's Twitter feed and how that will affect each different stop that he makes.
Does he tweet something in Japan that then the Chinese need to take into account? And we know that the people in China, that the Chinese government look to the president's Twitter feed for guidance as to what he's thinking. They that into account when they walk into these diplomatic meetings. And so usually when we have these foreign trips everything is planned out, everything is kind of known ahead of time.
We kind of know what to expect. But with this president he -- we don't really know what to expect because of that Twitter feed. So assuming his IT people, Christy, can make sure that he has a VPN installed on his phone, he will have access to his Twitter feed whether he chooses to use it in a way that impacts all of these different stops is going to be fascinating to watch.
KRISTI LU STOUT, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: All right. Matt Rivers reporting live for us from Qinhuangdao, China. Thank you.
Let's go back to Tokyo. CNN's Jim Acosta is there. And Jim, we've been looking at the live pictures of U.S. President Trump being greeted there on the tarmac. We are awaiting his speech to U.S. forces there at the Yokota Air Base. And ahead of his arrival Trump's aides have outlined the key goals of this trip. Again a five-nation, 13-day tour of the region.
What does Donald Trump want to achieve in Asia?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Kristi, I just want to let you know if you're throwing a question to me and let our control room know, our behind the scene folks know, I do not hear our programming anymore. But, yes, President Trump is expected to address U.S. troops any moment now. He just arrived a few moments ago as you saw with the first lady.
And as you said, he is going to continue this warm relationship that he's had with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. They are expected to -- after these remarks to U.S. troops just outside Tokyo, they are expected to have a round of golf before having dinner later on tonight and the president spending the night here in Japan. And then one more day in Japan here in Tokyo before he heads off to South Korea.
But as you were talking with Matt Rivers there a few moments ago, this whole issue of Twitter, that is obviously something that we're all watching. I remember being here with President Obama in 2014. You know, President Obama did not use Twitter the same way that President Trump uses it now.
So we would read into President Obama's speeches. We would read into his press conferences that he would have with other leaders. He would occasionally give an interview, for example, with a local news outlet in whichever country he's visiting. And there may be some news in that.
Now we have to watch just about every moment of the day, our phones, to see what the president decides to say or tweet. Now I will say there was a good deal of news coming from the president just a few moments ago when he arrived here in Japan on Air Force One. We should let our viewers know he did talk to reporters before landing here in Tokyo.
And it was during that exchange with reporters that he basically made some news and did not do it via Twitter. He told reporters that he does expect to meet with the Russian president Vladimir Putin during this trip across Asia. We do -- we think that's going to happen in Vietnam where the APEC Summit is going to be taking place. And the president made the comment that one of the reasons why he wants to meet with Vladimir Putin is because of this issue with North Korea, that he's looking for Vladimir Putin's help with North Korea.
Obviously, Kristi, because of the Russia investigation that's going on back in Washington, that isn't going to be the only storyline when it comes to that image, when you finally see President Trump and Vladimir Putin come face-to-face, that image is going to reverberate around the world because obviously these are two men who, you know, you don't hear President Trump talking about Vladimir Putin a great deal.
And one of the things -- one of the criticisms of President Trump that's come up time and again is that he just doesn't criticize Vladimir Putin very much. And that's always been treated as somewhat of a curiosity ever since Donald Trump was a candidate for president and now that he's been in office.
And because of the Russia investigation that is really ramping back up in Washington, this issue of Russia is going to be hanging over this president throughout this foreign trip. And just to see those two leaders together I think is going to make a great deal of news and just be fascinating to watch because of that undercurrent that is really just a part of this administration day in and day out.
What is happening with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, what is happening with those congressional investigations up on Capitol Hill. Every day or so it seems to be a different development in that investigation. And to see Vladimir Putin and President Trump come face-to-face, that may, in fact, be the news highlight of this trip, the biggest headline of this trip to see those two leaders coming together -- Kristi.
[22:05:09] STOUT: Absolutely. Fascinating optics to see President Trump and Putin side at a regional summit here in Asia. President Trump may have left Washington, D.C. but has not left his political battles behind.
Jim Acosta, thank you.
Now after Japan, Donald Trump will be heading to South Korea. And Paula Hancocks joins us now live from Seoul.
And Paula, how strong is the U.S.-South Korea alliance? And will they be able to work together closely in concert to reign in the threat posed by North Korea?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kristi, we often hear that the -- just how long the U.S.-South Korean alliance is. It's been since the 1950s, since the Korean War. And what we hear from officials and from military officials is that it transcends any leader. It's not the relationship between the president of the United States and the president of the South Korea. That is almost peripheral to the alliance itself because the alliance is between the two countries.
So I don't think anyone is expecting the alliance to suffer. But it is a good question. What is the relationship between President Moon and President Trump like? Now we hear from the Blue House that they have a strong relationship. We hear nothing but good things about this relationship. But it doesn't -- from an outsider's point of view, or certainly the optics, it doesn't appear to be as strong as it is with the Japanese prime minister, for example, or with the Chinese president.
Donald Trump certainly doesn't speak of President Moon in such glowing terms as he does with those two. And many people here, experts, pundits on local media are pointing to the fact that he's spending two nights in Japan, two nights in Beijing, but just one night here in South Korea. Those very obvious signs like -- there's a lot being read into that.
But certainly people hear will want to hear from the U.S. president that the alliance is strong, that the U.S. has South Korea's back. There has been a growing concern that if North Korean leader Kim Jong- un is able to hit mainland United States with a nuclear tipped missile in the next year or so, then does that mean that this nuclear umbrella that the U.S. has, that the protection that South Korea has enjoyed for so long, does that then disappear?
If it's the decision between a U.S. city and protecting South Korea, will the U.S. president turn his back on South Korea? These are the concerns that people have here in South Korea -- Kristi.
STOUT: All right. Paula Hancocks, thank you.
Let's go straight to Yokota Air Base in Japan. U.S. President Donald Trump on stage with the first lady. He will address U.S. troops there. Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, everybody. Mr. President, sir, I will tell you that you look great in that suit. But there's something missing.
Can I please ask the wing commander of the biggest, baddest, meanest C-130 wing in the Air Force, Colonel Bull Moss, to come out here?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Should I put it on?
TRUMP: I like this better. You can have my jacket just -- thank you, thank you, honey. Thank you. Oh, boy, that's something. This is great group of people. Thank you very much, and General Martinez, everybody, for your devoted leadership of our brave troop right here in Japan. And especially thank you, especially, especially, to all of the incredible service members.
We're really here today and we're going to have a good time. And we're going to celebrate your achievements. So I'll issue one of your favorite commands. Are you ready? At ease. At ease. Just now have a good time. Just have a good time.
Melania and I also want to extend a special thanks to Ambassador Bill Haggerty, who's doing an outstanding job. He's an outstanding person. I know him very well. Believe me, you got one of the great ones. He's leading our American embassy in Tokyo. I'm honored to be here today in this beautiful country, home of the extraordinary people of Japan.
[22:10:08] Japan is a treasured partner and crucial ally of the United States. And today we thank them for welcoming us and for decades of wonderful friendship between our two nations. Americans have deep respect and admiration for the people of Japan, their amazing culture, their strong spirit and their very proud history.
So on behalf of the United States of America, I send the warmest wishes of the American people to the citizens of this remarkable country.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Now I know how you guys feel. This is pretty good. Our travels across Asia will take us to many historic places to see many wonderful sights and to speak before many audiences. But there's no single place I'd rather begin my trip than right here with all of you, the incredible men and women of the United States military and your amazing partners, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces.
Thank you for being here. Thank you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: To everyone here today who serves your country in uniform, thank you, thank you, thank you. We salute you.
TRUMP: What's your rank?
TRUMP: We're going to raise it.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: We salute you, we honor you, and we stand proudly with the men and women who defend us and our way of life. Nations are built from the courage, love and sacrifice of patriots just like you. Each of you inherits the proud legacy of generations of warriors that have walked these very grounds for more than seven decades.
From the Yokota's runways American pilots took the air and drove back the pilots during the Korean War. Tremendous courage. Tremendous bravery. From here they enforced a precious piece during a long and bitter cold war. And in the aftermath of the devastating 2011 tsunami, this base served as the launching point for "Operation Tomodachi," largest humanitarian relief effort in American history, which saved the lives of thousands of thousands of great Japanese citizens.
Like those who came before you, you always rise to the occasion, and you never, ever let your country down.
General Martinez, General Chiarotti, General Pasquarette, Rear Admiral Fenton, Brigadier General Winkler, Colonel Moss and Chief Master Sergeant Greene, you lead the forces under your command with exceptional skill and devotion, and America is tremendously grateful to you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: We're also very fortunate to stand alongside such strong and capable allies. General Maehera, General Asai, General Imaki, and General Ando, thank you for your leadership and service. Thank you.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Thank you very much.
On behalf of the American people I want each and every one of you, both American and Japanese, to know that your service and commitment helps keep us all safe, strong and free.
I also want to express our gratitude to the family members and loved ones who sacrifice so much to make your service possible. They are absolutely incredible people, and it's not easy. America is profoundly grateful for all you do. And we are, back home, starting to do -- I will tell you and you're reading and you're seeing -- really, really well.
[22:15:09] The stock market is at an all-time high.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Unemployment back in the United States is at a 17-year low.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Almost two million jobs have been added since a very, very special day. It's called election day, November 8th, two million jobs.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: That's a lot of jobs. And we've dealt ISIS one brutal defeat after another, and it's about time.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: It's really inspiring to see American airmen and marines and --
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Yes, I have a great Marine here. General Kelly, four star. Did everyone ever hear of General Kelly? Where is General Kelly? He is something. Now he's chief of staff, but he does like those four stars, I will tell you that.
TRUMP: But American Airmen and the Marines and Japanese Self-Defense Forces, they're standing with us here today, side by side, confident, committed and more capable than ever. You instill confidence in the hearts of our allies, and you strike fear in the hearts of our enemies. It's the way it should be, isn't it?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Our alliance is a testament to the transformative power of freedom. Today nations that once waged war now stand together as friends and partners in pursuit of a much better world. And we're getting there. We're getting there faster than you think.
With your presence here today, shoulder to shoulder, you put hope into every soul that yearns for peace. All of you have made Yokota one of the most capable operational bases in Japan and actually anywhere in the world. For over a decade this incredible place has been home not only to American service members but also to the Air Defense Command of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force.
Today this base serves as a critical center for coordination, for American and Japanese commanders to plan their missions. For almost 60 years the military alliance we see on this base has endured a cornerstone of sovereignty, security and prosperity for our nations, this region and indeed the entire world.
Today we pay tribute to that legacy. A legacy you protect and grow each and every day. We dominate the sky. We dominate the sea. We dominate the land and the space.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Not merely because we have the best equipment, which we do. And by the way, a lot of it's coming in. You saw that budget. That's a lot different than in the past. A lot of beautiful, brand new equipment is coming in. And nobody makes it like they make it in the United States. Nobody.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
TRUMP: Got a lot of stuff coming. Use it well. But because we have, more important than equipment, we have the best people. Each of you embodies the warrior creed. Your devotion, prowess and expertise makes you the most fearsome fighting force in the history of our world. Together with our allies America's warriors are prepared to defend our nation using the full range of our unmatched capabilities.
No one, no dictator, no regime and no nation should underestimate ever American resolve. Every once in a while in the past they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?
TRUMP: It was not pleasant. We will never yield, never waver and never falter in defense of our people, our freedom and our great American flag.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
[22:20:11] TRUMP: That flag stands for the values of our republic, the history of our people, the sacrifice of our heroes and our loyalty to the nation we love. As long as I am president, the servicemen and women who defend our nation will have the equipment, the resources, and the funding they need to secure our homeland, to respond to our enemies quickly and decisively. And when necessary to fight, to overpower, and to always, always, always win. Right?
This is the heritage of the American armed forces, the greatest force for peace and justice the world has ever known. Free nations must be strong nations. And we welcome it when our allies from Europe to Asia renew their commitment to peace through strength.
We seek peace and stability for the nations of the world including those right here in this region. And it's a great region. As Americans celebrate Veterans Day this month we honor all who have sacrificed to make peace and stability possible. We pay tribute to every proud American who has worn the uniform and served our country.
Today many nations of the Indo-Pacific are thriving because of the sacrifices made by American service members and our allies and because of the sacrifices all of you continue to make each and every day.
Here in Japan we have seen the amazing things that are possible when a people are free and in independent. Over the course of a single lifetime the Japanese people have built one of the most successful societies and nation in the world.
Over the next 10 days we travel to South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. We will seek new opportunities for cooperation and commerce. And we will partner with friends and allies to pursue a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
We will seek free, fair and reciprocal trade. But this future is only within our grasp because of you. You make it possible for peace loving nations to thrive and for peace loving people to prosper. You are the reason the great American flag will proudly stand behind me wherever I go.
And every time I look at that flag I will think of brave men and women like you and I will think of all the American patriots down through the generations who poured out their blood, sweat, tears, hopes and dreams to defend our country.
When you follow your citizens and people across the Indo-Pacific region, see the flags of free and sovereign states like United States and Japan, displayed during our diplomatic meetings over the next 10 days. Be proud of your nation. Be proud of your service and be proud of the security you provide that makes it all possible.
Like your predecessors you, our brave warriors, are the last bulwark against threats to the dreams of people and America and Japan and all across the world. You are the greatest hope for people who desire to live in freedom and harmony and you are the greatest threat to tyrants and dictators who seek to prey on the innocent.
History has proven over and over that the road of the tyrant is a steady march towards poverty, suffering and servitude. But the path of strong nations and free people certain of their values and confident in their futures is a proven path toward prosperity and peace. We cherish our cultures, we embrace our values and we always fight for what we believe in.
[22:25:06] Because of you, the people of America, the people of Japan and the freedom-loving people everywhere are able to fulfill their destinies and follow their dreams. And we are grateful for your families, for their sacrifice and support that allows our brave men and women to serve.
We also appreciate the sacrifice of great dedicated civilians who keep this base going and take care of our military and their precious loved ones. We are eternally grateful for your service and for your sacrifice, and we are forever in your debt.
I am so proud to be here with you today. We face many challenges and many opportunities, and we will face all of them together as a team. And if we do, I am certain that the future for America, for Japan and for our cherished allies has never, ever looked brighter. Because of patriots like you, freedom will prevail.
Thank you. God bless you. God bless the Armed Forces and God bless the United States of America. Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you.
STOUT: U.S. president Donald Trump speaking live at Yokota Air base in Tokyo, Japan.
You saw him switch out his suit jacket for that flight jacket before presenting that address to U.S. troops. He said this, quote, "No one should underestimate American resolve." You heard the U.S. president thanked the service of U.S. troops. He also thanked Japan. He called Japan a crucial ally of the United States.
And President Trump said this, quote, "There is no single place I would rather begin my trip than with the incredible men and women with the United States Military and your amazing partners, the Japanese Self-Defense Forces."
Now let's go back to Tokyo. CNN's Jim Acosta has been monitoring that speech. He is there and he joins us once again.
And Jim, President Trump took to the stage there. There were resounding cheers. He got kitted out in that flight jacket and he went onto thank U.S. troops there, address the nation of Japan. What are your thoughts about that address?
ACOSTA: Well, no question about it, Kristi. He wanted to deliver a commander-in-chief style speech and that's what he did just outside of Tokyo with the U.S. troops there a few moments ago. You know, we've been talking about the president's trip and before he landed here in Tokyo one of the questions was, you know, what kind of rhetoric would he employ while he was on the ground in this region.
And it seems that the president is going to at times engage in this tough talk to send a message to North Korea. At one point during the speech he said, quote, "We dominate the sky, we dominate the sea, we dominate the land and space." He said of enemies who have underestimated the United States in the past, he said, quote, "It was not pleasant for them."
Now he wasn't calling Kim Jong-un "Rocket Man" or threatening to totally destroy North Korea or anything like that as he did in that speech to the United Nations back in September. But I do think that this speech was at times designed to be something of a warning to North Korea, that the president of the United States is on the ground in this region and that he's not going to tolerate any kind of provocations coming from Kim Jong-un. You see the president shaking hands with service members here in Japan.
I thought one of the other things that stood out for me, Kristi, and you here this and again from the president back home in Washington, is he very much wants the American people to give him credit for this growing economy. You heard it there in that speech just a few moments ago. He was touting the American economic record with those U.S. troops. He was also talking about it on Air Force One with reporters.
There's one comment that the president made to reporters on Air Force One that stands out to me. This is quote that he said according to reporters on Air Force One. He said, quote, "The reason our stock market is so successful is because of me. I've always been great with money," end quote. And so the president I think is trying pretty hard in the face of some
pretty tough poll numbers. These are some of the toughest poll numbers that we've seen for a president this early on in an administration in decades saying, hey, I deserve more credit than what I'm getting here. And he seems to be making that case almost on a daily basis back in Washington and in his very first remarks here in Asia he's making those remarks again -- Kristi.
STOUT: Yes, absolutely. It was interesting to hear the president talk about the stock market at an all-time high while there in Japan, addressing U.S. troops, you know, talking about unemployment at a 17- year low.
[22:30:06] He also mentioned the recent military defeats of ISIS in the Middle East. To what degree is President Trump, not just using this speech, but is he going to use this overall visit to Asia to appeal to audiences back in the U.S.?
ACOSTA: Absolutely. I think, you know, there are going to be times during this trip, Kristi, where he is going to be talking over us. He is going to be talking over whichever country he's in at that moment, and he's going to be speaking back to Americans back at home. He not only has people in the middle, a lot of moderates, a lot of politically independent Americans who are concerned about the direction of his presidency.
He has got to keep that base at home. And with this Russia investigation unfolding day after day, drip after drip, shoe dropping after shoe dropping, he understand that as goes that investigation so goes his presidency. And that is why he's trying to make the case time and again that the economy is still doing very well under his administration.
Now I think the other thing that we're going to be focused on, obviously, is going to be this threat posed by North Korea. I think that is part of the reason why you heard the president engaged in some of that tough talk here. But, again, and we've talked about this before, the question is, how does he calibrate that language as he travels throughout the region?
As you were speaking with our other colleagues about this earlier, not every country in this region wants to hear that same kind of bellicose rhetoric. And South Korea doesn't go over as well. And so the question will be, does he calibrate that language when he gets to South Korea? But in the meantime he is making it very clear he has have a very good relationship with the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. After this event here, you're going to see the president, we think we'll see some pictures of the two playing golf. They'll have dinner later on tonight and talk about trade.
One of those issues that has actually divided President Trump and Shinzo Abe. President Trump pulled the United States out of the Transpacific Partnership that was initiated by Barack Obama. That is a move that Shinzo Abe did not agree with. And it'll be interesting to see how they handle that when the two come face-to-face tomorrow. We do expect the president to take some questions from reporters. And I suppose that issue could come up.
But no question about it, Kristi, I think this issue of North Korea is just going to be there, you know, stop after stop throughout this foreign trip. The president is going to have to deal with that question on almost a daily basis.
I also think it was interesting as the president was landing here in Japan he was telling reporters on Air Force One, it looks like, yes, he is going to be meeting with Vladimir Putin. We expect that to happen at the APEC Summit in Vietnam. One would have thought perhaps out of caution the president might not have wanted that image, that optic out there. He might have decided, you know what, I'm not going to have to this face-to-face encounter with Vladimir Putin.
He was telling reporters on Air Force One as he was landing here, he'd like to have that help of Vladimir Putin when it comes with dealing with North Korea. And so it looks like in a matter of days, Kristi, we are going to see that image of Donald Trump -- President Trump, Vladimir Putin during this foreign trip by the president here in the next several days -- Kristi.
STOUT: That is North Korea, you know, even the ongoing Russia probe, both issues will be looming large for the U.S. president during his ongoing visit here in the region.
He used that interesting turn of phrase in the speech just then, a, quote, "free and open Indo-Pacific region," as supposed to Asia Pacific. Indo-Pacific, that's been causing some people to raise some eyebrows here. That was outlined as one of the key goals by Trump aides for Trump during this visit. Is that as it pertains to trade and territorial disputes? How is that going to play out?
ACOSTA: Well, I -- you know, what we've seen, Kristi, so far with this president is that he has decided essentially take Barack Obama's vision for trade with this part of the world and kind of smash it and start over again. He is not a fan of these multilateral large trade deals like the Transpacific Partnership. He would rather see individual trade deals with these countries in this region.
He's talked about that with South Korea. He has talked about using trade as leverage with China in terms of dealing with North Korea. And part of the reason why you're hearing the president tout his economic record is, you know, this was very much top of mind for him when he was on Air Force One when he was asked by reporters, what does Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, have an upper hand when it comes to this discussion you're going to have with the Chinese leader when you get to Beijing, and the president was very quick to try to shut down that line of questioning, saying, no, no, no, I am doing just as well as Xi Jinping as obviously, you know, people around the world will look at that, political analysts around the world will look at that and say, perhaps that's not -- that's really the case. Xi Jinping is now probably the most powerful leader of China in a generation.
[22:35:02] But the president very much wants to make that case that he is a big player in the world despite all of those looming problems, the sagging poll numbers back in Washington -- Kristi. STOUT: All right. Jim Acosta, reporting live for us from Tokyo.
Thank you, Jim.
We will continue our live coverage of President Donald Trump's landmark visit to Asia. Keep it here right here on CNN.
STOUT: Welcome back. You're watching CNN's special coverage of U.S. President Donald Trump's trip to Asia. First stop Japan where he landed earlier in the hour. He has already spoken to U.S. troops on the ground there.
And President Trump will visit not just Japan but all five Asian countries over the next couple of weeks. And this trip comes indeed at a critical time. We know that tensions are on the rise in the region as North Korea insists on its nuclear program. Trade, of course, also a big focus of this trip.
Let's bring in one of the top economists in the region. His name is Jesper Koll. He is the CEO of Wisdom Tree Japan and former director of research at JPMorgan Chase. He joins us live from Tokyo.
Jesper, thank you so much for joining us. First I want to ask you about that address we heard just then from President Trump because while he was speaking to U.S. troops in Tokyo Trump called Japan a crucial ally of the U.S. You know, it also seems that Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe have a very close personal friendship. In a few hours they'll be playing golf together.
[22:40:09] Is this going to be a good visit for President Trump there in Japan?
JESPER KOLL, CEO, WISDOM TREE JAPAN: I think absolutely. You know America and Japan are linked at the hip. If you look at the economic relationship, it's absolutely amazing how strong the cooperation between Japan and the United States is.
And let me just point out for Japanese companies almost a quarter of their corporate profits come from exporting or producing in the United States of America. So Japan is very dependent on the United States. And as a result of that Prime Minister Abe is very focused on making this relationship the best in the world.
STOUT: Trump and Abe are expected to act in lockstep together, you know, in terms of their messaging on a host of issues including especially North Korea, right? It is a strong alliance. But what about the people of Japan? Do they support where Trump is taking policy on issues that affect their nation?
KOLL: I think the answer is yes. And I can say that with great confidence because as you know just a couple of weeks ago we had a big general election. And Prime Minister Abe on his agenda of being pro- America, of being aligned with President Trump's foreign policy particularly against North Korea, you know, they did win here a two- thirds super majority. So I think it's quite clear that, yes, by hook or by crook the Japanese people fully stand behind America.
STOUT: Now trade of course will also be on the agenda as Prime Minister Abe sits down with President Trump. How is the needle going to move in terms of trade between these two nations?
KOLL: The trade relationship is very, very interesting. I mean basically there are no big issues out there. And, you know, but, you know, whether America and Japan can agree to actually sit down to negotiate a free-trade agreement just between the two nations -- because as you know Japan was very focused on multilateral negotiations on the Transpacific Partnership here, now switching gears towards a bilateral one, that's going to be a little bit more complicated and probably will take a little bit more time.
STOUT: Yes. And more on the TPP, President Obama had warned that if the United States was to back out of the TPP, a void would be created and perhaps filled by China. Has that in fact happened?
KOLL: So far it has not happened. As you know, Japan and the New Zealand and Australia have tried to keep the Transpacific Partnership negotiations going without America. But so far, you know, the People's Republic of China has not made any constructive agreement. And the good news is now, you know, with President Trump and Prime Minister Abe actually meeting, I do think economics is going to be on the agenda and perhaps turbo-charging the Japan-America free trade agreement possibilities. That's I think going to be one of the agenda items.
STOUT: All right. Jesper Koll, joining us live from Tokyo. Thank you so much and take care.
Now with U.S. president Trump now in Japan, let's look at his other stops on what will be the longest presidential trip in Asia since 1992. Now Mr. Trump heads next to South Korea. He is expected to have bilateral and expanded meetings there before heading off to China. In Beijing, Mr. Trump will tour the Forbidden City with President Xi Jinping, with meetings scheduled for the next day. He then heads to Vietnam for the APEC summit events and then he'll be making his final stop, Manila, for ASEAN meetings as well as the East Asia Summit.
We're covering President Trump's Asia trip from all angles with our Paula Hancocks standing by in Seoul, South Korea. Matt Rivers is in Qinhuangdao, China.
And, Matt, you're in Qinhuangdao, China to put some of the focus on the trade relationship between the U.S. and China. So how is that going to play out once Trump touches down in Beijing?
RIVERS: Yes, you know, Kristi, for all of the justified attention being played to the North Korea issue, and that will of course top every agenda in every place that Donald Trump goes to, the other big reason that he's coming to Asia is trade. And the United States and China trading relationship is potentially the -- the most important bilateral relationship in the world. I mean, right there behind me you can see, that's American soybeans.
That's soybeans that were grown in America, sent to China. And that's incredibly important to people who live in the middle of the United States. That's American livelihoods right there. And that's what's at stake here when the U.S. and Chinese leaders get together in what has been a trading relationship that has seemed to have the potential to have some punitive measures enacted on both sides.
[22:45:03] I mean, you've heard Donald Trump say that he believes that China has taken advantage of the United States. And he has talked about things like tariffs. He's talked about investigating China for illegally dumping things like steel into the U.S. economy and that he wants to do something about it. So what does he do about it? What will he do about it? Will this meeting with Xi Jinping maybe persuade him to not do something about it because they can come to some agreement on trade?
It is incredibly important, though, when we talk about trade in this sense because we're talking about livelihoods of people in China and in the United States. This is people's income. I mean, right there somebody in America grew that soy bean and if China were to take retaliatory measures against the United States, if Donald Trump put a tariff on Chinese imports to the U.S. would China do the same on U.S. soy beans?
That's the kind of consequences that we're talking about and that's why these negotiations between both of these sides are really impactful and very important.
STOUT: Yes. Absolutely. Because at stake American jobs, the valuations of certain companies. A lot at stake here.
In addition to trade, there's also the key issue of North Korea. Do you think that Trump will go ahead and put the pressure on China to play the China card, to use its leverage over North Korea and will try to play along?
RIVERS: Yes. You know, that has been the Trump administration's goal since he got into office, frankly. And in the way that other administrations have not been willing to do, Donald Trump has at least stated rhetorically that he'd be willing to link the issues of trade and North Korea. And so if he gets the feeling that China isn't doing what he wants them to do, isn't taking the kind of steps going far enough with Pyongyang that he wants, after this meeting is he willing to take punitive measures against China when it comes to trade?
He hasn't been willing to do that so far. You've actually seen the U.S.-China relationship be a lot better than most people expected, given what Donald Trump said on the campaign trail. But where both sides move forward on the North Korea issue, they're pretty much entrenched in their positions. You know, the Trump administration says that they're not ready for bilateral talks with the North Korea and China says that that's the only way to move forward here, the only way to really solve this problem.
And whether this meeting can actually kind of break the stalemate really that has existed between the United States and China in terms of their differing viewpoints on how to solve this crisis, we're just not sure. Both leaders know where their positions are, they know what they want out of the other country, but so far really since the beginning of the Trump administration it's kind of been a stalemate when it comes to making progress on North Korea.
STOUT: All right. Matt Rivers reporting live for us in Qinhuangdao, China. Thank you.
Now let's bring up Paula Hancocks. She's standing by live for us from the South Korean capital of Seoul.
And Paula, back to that speech that Donald Trump to U.S. troops in Tokyo just a few moments ago, he said, quote, "No one should ever underestimate the American resolve." It appeared to be a pretty pointed remark directed at North Korea. How would a remark like that be interpreted in South Korea, and are South Korean officials bracing for even more tough comments from the visiting U.S. president?
HANCOCKS: Yes, Kristi, I think it's fair to say that everybody is expecting more tough talk, potentially off-the-cuff remarks, potential tweets that could anger North Korea. But this was an interesting line that he had. "No dictator, no regime, no nation should underestimate ever the American resolve." So certainly it appears as though it's a very thinly veiled reference to North Korea. The fact that North Korea should take the alliances seriously.
What South Korea wants to hear from the U.S. president is that the U.S. is firmly behind South Korea. They want to know that this alliance between the U.S. and South Korea is in no way damaged, is in no way lessened because North Korea is now potentially within months or years able to physically threaten mainland United States as well.
This is a very important issue for the South Koreans. In fact to the point that we're hearing further calls for South Korea itself to have its own nuclear weapons. A recent Gallup poll suggesting 60 percent of people polled thought that was a good idea. You have opposition party members saying that they think it's important for South Korea to have its own nuclear weapon program rather than relying on the U.S. nuclear umbrella.
That is something that just a year ago was a minority opinion. It was on the fringe of political life. We weren't talking about it because it was considered really on the fringe. So there are some -- many concerns from South Korea's point of view. What will the relationship between President Moon and President Trump be like? It's well-known it's not quite as strong as it is with Prime Minister Abe of Japan. It's not that close friendship you see there. But South Korea is looking for strong support from the U.S. leader. A strong guarantee the alliance is as it should be.
[22:50:04] And no requests for additional money, for troops being based here, which is something Donald Trump has said in the past, not recently of course, and to know that that alliance is strong -- Kristi.
STOUT: All right. South Korea is seeking reassurances from Donald Trump as he visits the nation in a couple of days.
Paula Hancocks reporting live from Seoul. Thank you.
Now U.S. President Donald Trump arriving in Japan moments ago. Air Force One landed at Yokota Air Base outside of Tokyo. Even before he arrived, Mr. Trump was tweeting saying, "Can't wait to be with our great military."
Now Mr. Trump received a rousing welcome from the troops and he also had some kind words for Japan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Japan is a treasured partner and crucial ally of the United States, and today we thank them for welcoming us and for decades of wonderful friendship between our two nations. Americans have deep respect and admiration for the people of Japan. Their amazing culture, their strong spirit and their very proud history.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STOUT: From trade to North Korea, the U.S. president has (INAUDIBLE) as he kicks off his tour of Asia and joining me now is CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin.
Josh, thank you for joining us.
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.
STOUT: Trump has kicked off his visit to Asia. He gave that speech. It was a rousing speech to delighted troops there in Tokyo, thanking U.S. troops in Japan, thanking Japan for the crucial reliance between the two countries. Your thoughts on that speech if you had a chance to follow that.
STOUT: And how it plays into his wider objectives here in the region.
ROGIN: Sure. Two key things, first of all, what President Trump did was unveil his broad strategy for the region. He called for, quote, "a free and open Indo-Pacific region." That's the frame, when I talked to White House officials, they tell me that that's a theme that you'll see in speeches throughout the trip especially during what they're hailing as a major speech in Da Nang, Vietnam, alongside the APEC summit.
What that's meant to do specifically is to redefine the chess board in Asia on American terms. And drawing a unity of interest from India all the way to Japan and it's their response to what they saw as a failed Asia pivot by the Obama administration.
Now the details of that strategy will be unveiled in an Indo-Pacific strategy review that will come out a couple of weeks after the president gets back to the United States. So that's the big policy framework. We can talk about that more if you want. This Japan stop is interesting because of what he said about Japan is
true. They're not only the closest ally and President Abe -- Prime Minister Abe is a close friend of Donald Trump. They have a great relationship. But Japan is aligned with the Trump administration on these big issues. They have the same view of the need to pressure North Korea and not sit down for talks at this time. They agree with the Trump administration on its basic view of China and the region at large. They don't agree on trade, but that's a separate issue.
This is the easiest stop for President Trump in short. It only gets more difficult from here. When he goes to South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines it'll be much more complicated. So this is the one they gave him to sort of get off to a good start if you want to say that.
STOUT: Yes. Japan is going to be a good visit for President Trump and it's going to get a lot trickier for him as he travels on and navigates the particularly tricky issue of North Korea.
In that speech to U.S. troops in Japan, Trump made an interesting comment. He said on foes who have underestimated the U.S., quote, "it was not pleasant for them." And that's been kind of interpreted as this sort of abstract indirect warning to North Korea.
ROGIN: That's right.
STOUT: On the issue of North Korea, are going to hear Trump articulate further his North Korea policy or is he going to keep it vague?
ROGIN: No, I don't think you're going to see a very specific but toned down message compared to what Trump said at the U.N. speech where he threatened to totally destroy North Korea. At least in his written remarks. And the key example there will be when Trump addresses the national assembly in Seoul in just a couple of days' time.
These speeches have been highly vetted and run through a very detailed and extensive inter-agency process to make sure that everyone inside the Trump administration is on the same page. The unscripted remarks are a whole different story. When he gets in front of the cameras, standing with one of these world leaders, he'll be asked anything that the reporters want to ask him, and he'll say whatever he wants to say. And therein lies the risk.
So I think every time you see him looking at those teleprompters, you're going to get a strong, tough but measured North Korea message. And, you know, when he gets in front of the cameras without the teleprompter, all bets are off.
STOUT: Yes. And let's talk more about that. Trump is an unpredictable president. He is visiting the region during a time of much tension given North Korea. What have you heard about any attempts to manage the president and his messaging during this visit?
ROGIN: Well, I think you've seen it in the managing of the schedule. For example, after some very quiet objections from the South Korean government and people inside the U.S. State Department and the Trump White House decided not to take a visit to the Demilitarized Zone between North Korea and South Korea.
[22:55:13] That was seen as a pretty safe way to avoid one of the riskier parts of the trip that were -- if Trump said something really egregious that that could really cause a big incident. There are other parts of this that are being heavily managed to minimize the amount of time that he gets to speak off the cuff.
There's really nothing they can do. A lot of times when they're on these trips, Trump gets too busy to tweet which is a good thing. They keep his schedule very packed so that also minimizes the risk. But, you know, Donald Trump is going to be Donald Trump. And I think what they're telling allies or what the administration is telling everybody is that listen, don't take these things too seriously.
He's going to say something a little nuts or a little crazy, but that's just Trump being Trump. I think that's the message you got for General McMaster before they left and I think people are sort of getting used to it in a way. So you're able to have a real policy process, a strategy discussion, and then you have what the president says in tweets and those things kind of operate on parallel track and it's a little weird. But people are getting used to it and that's forever what we're seeing forever in the Trump administration for sure.
STOUT: All right. Josh Rogin, thank you.
I'm Kristi Lu Stout in Hong Kong. And thank you to our viewers in the U.S. and around the world for joining us for our special coverage of President Trump's arrival in Japan and Asia. And so stay with CNN as we cover this major landmark trip to Asia from the U.S. president.