Despite the “fake news”, the Japanese are glad that it was not a sign of a deteriorating political relationship.

Last week, the U.S. newspaper The Washington Post reported that President Trump allegedly brought up Pearl Harbor during trade talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in June this year. The Post implied that the comment was meant as a reminder to Abe about the “atrocities” America experienced at the hands of the Japanese, and said it was part of an overall “rant” about the trade deficit between the U.S. and Japan.

The Post indicated that this was a troublesome sign of a deteriorating political relationship between President Trump and PM Abe, who otherwise appeared to be on very good terms. This was disquieting news for all, since the U.S. and Japan rely on each other substantially for political and economic reasons. The two countries have a strong trade relationship, in spite of the trade deficit, and the two leaders are said to be genuine friends.

Japan, in particular, benefits greatly from their relationship with the U.S., whose military presence in Japan contributes to the maintenance of the tenuous peace in the Pacific. The U.S. is also one of the chief suppliers of aid to the country during natural disasters, and the U.S. Armed Forces regularly contribute manpower and resources toward disaster relief efforts.

That’s why the Japanese media fell into a bit of a panic when it picked up the Washington Post‘s report. While most individual netizens actually took the news with a grain of salt, many Japanese news sites and officials began to worry that the U.S. and Japan were in fact not getting along well at all, and feared what might happen as a result.

▼ A U.S. Marine Corps recruiting video about their work in Operation Tomodachi, a U.S. Armed Forces mission to provide relief after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami

“Many are starting to doubt the credibility of Prime Minister Abe [who has said that U.S.-Japan relations are stronger than ever]”, said one news source, while Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People said, “It looked like the relationship between Trump and Abe was good, but now it’s being revealed that things are quite cold.” Others worried about what kind of pressure President Trump may put on Japan to get Abe to lower the U.S. trade deficit.

Now, though, Japanese news source Sankei News has reported that, according to a high-ranking Japanese official, Trump’s “I remember Pearl Harbor” statement was actually made at a completely different time and place. The mention of Pearl Harbor was allegedly a joke about Japan’s “strength” in relation to Abe’s golfing talent, which Trump made before starting up a game at his Mar-a-Lago golf course in Florida, two months before.

▼ Footage of Abe and Trump’s meeting at the White House before their joint trip to Florida

Many Japanese netizens are now criticizing the Washington Post and Japanese media for spreading “fake news”, and are complaining about the credibility of the media in general:

“Is there any media that we can trust?”
“This is the way it is now.”
“They got us!”
“I guess every country’s media is shit.”
“Of course it’s fake news. I’m not even surprised.”
“They must be so embarrassed.”
“It should be a crime to spread fake news.”

But while Japanese netizens are critical of the whole conundrum, Japanese officials and news sources who must have sincerely believed the unsettling information they were reporting can now sigh in relief, as the two countries seem to be on as excellent terms as ever, in spite of some economic differences. With rising tensions and shaky relationships between international leaders across the world, for once the unveiling of misreporting is actually good news.

Source: Sankei News via Hamster Sokuhou
Images: YouTube/The White House