- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 5, 2017

At the start of a 12-day trip through Asia to confront North Korea, President Trump told U.S. service members in Japan on Sunday that no dictator should underestimate American military power and determination.

The president also said he expects to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during this trip to seek his help with North Korea.

Meeting with U.S. troops at Yokota Air Base in Japan on the first full day of his Asia visit, Mr. Trump referred to the diplomatic and security challenges posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

“Together with our allies, America’s warriors are prepared to defend our nation using the full range of our unmatched capabilities,” Mr. Trump said. “No one — no dictator, no regime and no nation — should underestimate, ever, American resolve.”

In an apparent reference to World War II, Mr. Trump said enemies have made the mistake of underestimating the U.S. “every once in a while in the past.”

“It was not pleasant for them, was it?” he said to applause. “We will never yield, never waver and never falter in defense of our people, our freedom and our great American flag.”

Addressing the North Korea threat will dominate Mr. Trump’s trip, with stops in South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines. But trade is the other top issue for the president in dealing with Asian partners.

At a breakfast meeting with U.S. and Japanese business leaders Monday morning in Tokyo, Mr. Trump pushed for more investment in America.

“We love it when you build cars,” he told the crowd, which included major Japanese auto executives. “Try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over. That’s not rude.”

Mr. Trump also touted the Republican tax reform bill making its way through Congress, saying it would make the U.S. a more attractive place to do business.

“We are very, very substantially lowering our taxes. The United States is one of the highest taxed nations in the world, but it’s also a market like no other — by far the biggest market in the world.”

On the flight to Japan aboard Air Force Once, Mr. Trump told reporters that North Korea will be “a big subject” during his talks with leaders in Japan, South Korea and China.

“We want to get it solved,” he said. “It’s a big problem for our country and for the world, and we want to get it solved. And there’s been 25 years of total weakness, and so we’re taking a very much different approach.”

He said North Koreans are “great people.”

“They’re industrious,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re warm, much warmer than the world really knows or understands. And I hope it all works out for everybody. It will be a wonderful thing if we can work out for those great people, and for everybody.”

Mr. Trump said he will likely meet with Mr. Putin on his fourth stop of the trip, in Vietnam.

“We want Putin’s help on North Korea, and we’ll be meeting with a lot of different leaders,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s Monday meeting with families of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea promises to elevate these heart-wrenching tales of loss to the international stage as he hopes to pressure Pyongyang to end its provocative behavior toward U.S. allies in the region, The Associated Press reported.

North Korea has acknowledged apprehending 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s, but it claims all those captives either have died or been released.

In Japan, where grieving relatives of the abducted have become symbols of heartbreak on the scale of American POW families, the government insists nearly 50 people have been taken — and believes some may be alive.

Mr. Trump has delivered harsh denunciations of the renegade North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, belittling him as “Little Rocket Man” and threatening to rain “fire and fury” on his country if the belligerence continues.

Also on the agenda during Mr. Trump’s second day in Asia: an audience with Emperor Akihito, a sit-down with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and a state dinner.

S.A. Miller contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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