Grin and bear it: Abe and Trump in the Oval Office, February 2017 
Jim Bourg/Reuters

Japan has more reason to worry than any other country in the world about who becomes the president of the United States. In contrast to U.S. allies and partners in Europe, which are surrounded mostly by friendly states, Japan faces many neighbors that are undemocratic and increasingly hostile. Since January, North Korea has launched missiles in Japan’s vicinity 11 times, culminating in a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on July 4. China has continued its buildup of islands in the South China Sea. And in the face of such developments, Japan remains heavily dependent on the United States for its own security.

The unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election last year should have set off shock waves in Japan. Before and during the campaign, he repeatedly criticized Tokyo, accusing it of manipulating Japan’s currency and unfairly shutting out U.S. cars from

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  • TAKAKO HIKOTANI is Gerald L. Curtis Associate Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy at Columbia University. 
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