Asia Minute: President Trump’s Asian Travels Include Sales Pitches for U.S. Military Equipment

Nov 9, 2017

F-35 Stealth Fighter
Credit Wikimedia Commons

North Korea is a critical topic during President Trump’s current travels in Asia. But there is another side to the military situation in the region that is also getting attention: U.S. arms sales. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

The concept first emerged in Tokyo: narrowing a trade deficit by acquiring more U.S. made military equipment.

At a joint news conference, President Trump said “the prime minister of Japan is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should.”

Prime Minister Abe said that Japan “will be buying more from the United States.” But within 24 hours, the government’s chief spokesman was modifying expectations – saying that plans already exist to buy Osprey aircraft, F-35 stealth fighters and other items.

Jiji Press quotes a senior defense official as saying “we’ll proceed with the existing plan, without worrying about the president’s remarks.”

At a joint news conference in South Korea, President Moon Jae-in said talks will soon begin on the purchase of what have been termed “military surveillance assets” made by U.S. companies.

President Trump said South Korea will be ordering, quote, “billions of dollars of that equipment.”

National newspapers in South Korea have been full of speculation ever since, about what weapons systems are most likely to make the shopping list.

A South Korean presidential official said it’s all very early in the process—telling the Korea Times that “Decisions have yet to be made on exactly which weapons to acquire and how many of them to buy.”