President Trump warned during his first visit to Japan — a country America attacked with atomic bombs twice during World War II — that dictators, regimes and nations have underestimated American resolve in the past. Roughly 200,000 people were killed or injured in the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
“No dictator, no regime, and no nation should underestimate ever, American resolve. Every once and a while in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?” he asked the audience of U.S. service members stationed in Japan.
While his remarks sounded a bit tone-deaf in English, they reportedly sounded particularly worse in the Japanese translation:
“Those who underestimated us in the past didn’t meet a good end,” New York Times reporter Hiroko Tabuchi observed was the translation that scrolled along a major Japanese television network.
Unfortunately, the Japanese subtitles make him sound particularly tone deaf “Those who underestimated us in the past didn’t meet a good end” pic.twitter.com/YdPEV174dm
— Hiroko Tabuchi (@HirokoTabuchi) November 5, 2017
Trump never mentioned North Korea specifically, but promised to defend freedom from foreign adversaries. Trump’s relationship with Japan was already on unsteady footing stemming from remarks he made while on the campaign trail.
During a March 2016 interview with the New York Times, Trump said America no longer has the money and the military is too depleted to continue protecting Japan from adversaries such as North Korea.
“There’ll be a point at which we’re just not going to be able to do it anymore. Now, does that mean nuclear? It could mean nuclear,” Trump said, suggesting that perhaps Japan should become a nuclear power.
Trump also took to Twitter last year to ask if Obama during his trip to Japan, would discuss the U.S. ally’s “sneak attack on Pearl Harbor” during WWII. He also cautioned that Obama should not apologize for the U.S. nuking Hiroshima.
Does President Obama ever discuss the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor while he's in Japan? Thousands of American lives lost. #MDW
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 28, 2016
Trump was speaking to service members at the Yokota Air Base in Tokyo Sunday morning, kicking off the first leg of a five country tour of Asia. Trump made a pit-stop in Honolulu, Hawaii Saturday to visit the USS Arizona Memorial and the Trump hotel in Waikiki to thank employees for a “tremendously successful project.”