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Trump ends his visit in Japan by calling for a military buildup to counter the threat from North Korea

Brian Bennett, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in Political News

TOKYO -- Wrapping up a visit here before flying to South Korea, President Donald Trump called for Japan to buy U.S. anti-missile batteries to counter the growing ballistic missile threat from North Korea, saying buying more U.S. military equipment would create more jobs for Americans and increase security for the Japanese.

"He will shoot them out of the sky when he completes the purchase of a lot of military equipment from the United States," Trump said Monday during a news conference with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trump pointedly teased Abe over the trade deficit between the two countries, and seemed to advocate a military buildup as a way to close the gap.

"It's a lot of jobs for us, and a lot of safety for Japan, and other countries that are likewise purchasing military equipment from us," Trump said. At another point, he complimented the Japanese economy, but said: "I don't know if it's as good as ours. I think not. OK? We're going to try to keep it that way. And you'll be second."

The Japanese government already buys a lot of U.S. military hardware, Abe said, but he agreed that the country should "enhance our defense capability."

"Missile defense is something based on cooperation between Japan and the U.S.," he said. "If it is necessary" to shoot down a missile, "of course we will do that."

In the run-up to Trump's visit to Asia, Japanese media reported that the president had told other world leaders he did not understand why Japan, which he reportedly referred to as a country of "samurai warriors," had not shot down a North Korean missile that flew over the nation's territory in September. U.S. and Japanese military officials are concerned that North Korea may launch a similar provocation during Trump's tour of Asia.

The two leaders, who golfed together after Trump's arrival, spent the second day of the president's visit having lunch, feeding fish in a koi pond and engaging in lengthy talks concerning North Korea and trade.

Trump sounded notably hoarse as he spoke. He is scheduled to visit five countries during the course of his 12-day trip.

"You have a very, very aggressive, tough prime minister. That's a good thing by the way, not a bad thing," Trump said.

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