On the campaign trail, The Donald has not mentioned Japan anywhere near as much as he’s talked about China, but still, many Japanese have been thinking: “Say what?”
Trump has repeatedly bashed Japan on trade — a surprise to many in this country, where the economic boom is a distant memory — and has suggested Japan should develop nuclear weapons so that the United States doesn’t need to help defend it anymore. After the Fukushima disaster of 2011, many Japanese are opposed to the idea of nuclear power plants, let alone nuclear weapons.
But the tabloids and online news outlets have been having a field day with Trump. Here’s a flavor.
“Make me like Donald Trump!”
Hidenori Sato, a writer for the RocketNews24 pop culture website, went to a fashionable beauty salon in Tokyo and asked them to make him look like Trump. It took some effort — and two rounds of bleach on his Japanese hair to achieve Trump’s “glittering blond” — but Sato came out with a very Donaldesque orange quiff.
“Leaving aside his ideals, I thought to myself: ‘I want to become big like him so that I can be talked about internationally!’” Sato wrote. “To make my appearance look like him at least, I went to a hair salon and asked: ‘Please make me like Donald Trump!’ I think I've become even closer than I expected to becoming a big star!”
Trumping himself wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t painless.
“I tolerated the pain to my head caused by the bleach and completed the second application. Wow, it's a nice color! It has the air of a rich man!” Sato recalled.
Styling also proved a problem, as Sato's hair wasn’t quite long enough to achieve full Trumpian splendor. The hairdresser did, however, manage to create “a gentle slope like a jump ramp.” He wrote: “The key was to bring up the edge of my hair with a curling iron."
“But to me, I'm Mr Trump, the big man. I don't care what anyone says, I look exactly like Mr Trump!” Sato wrote, perhaps a little tongue-in-cheek. “With this, I’ve come one step closer to being big like Mr. Trump. I'll never reach to his level, but I feel something in me has been upgraded.”
Is Trump’s popularity due to his “universal beauty”?
Tocana, an online news site usually pre-occupied with UFOs, spiritual phenomena and other mysterious incidents, recently posited that his popularity could be linked to the fact that his face fits the “golden ratio” — a mathematical measure of beauty previously associated with more conventional stunners like Marilyn Monroe and the Mona Lisa.
The “golden ratio” is a special number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part, according to Live Science. It is often symbolized using phi, after the 21st letter of the Greek alphabet.
Japan has a particular affinity for the “golden ratio” — its all-important business cards are designed according to these measurements.
“Take a look at a following image where a golden rectangle, whose sides fit the golden ratio, and Mr Trump’s profile photo are put together,” Tocana wrote. “You can see that the ratio of the distance from his ear to the back side of his head and the length from top of his head to his forehead matches the golden ratio perfectly. It matches so perfectly that it makes us shudder.”
That means that the people who support Trump do so because they “are probably instantly captivated by him rather than by his policies, remarks or performances.”
The only option for Hillary Clinton? The site concludes that the Democratic front-runner either needs to encourage Trump to change his hairstyle or to try to get in on the golden ratio action herself.
Trump’s face also holds other clues
Elsewhere on the Japanese internet, weekly magazine Spa asked facial analyst Kenji Shimizu to tell them what Trump and Clinton said with their fleeting expressions during speeches made on Super Tuesday.
What did Shimizu conclude? Well, for one, that Trump really hates China.
“In all parts where he says ‘China,’ negative subtle expressions such as anger, hatred and sorrow appear often, so it seems true that he dislikes China,” Shimizu concluded. “He says he doesn’t dislike it, but his real intention shows."
One time when he mentions China, his lower lip goes up and he shakes his head. “This is a subtle expression that means no,” Shimizu said. “He’s really easy to read.”
When it comes to women: “His shoulders go up a little when he says that protecting women is important to him. That’s a typical American gesture that means ‘not sure’ so it’s pretty obvious that he doesn’t really consider it as that important,” Shimizu concludes.
Batten down the hatches
Japan — like many other American allies — is now trying to prepare for the prospect of a Trump presidency. But even though the Republican has now announced his foreign policy team, there’s still not an obvious contact point for Asian governments.
Still, the Japanese prime minister has ordered his mandarins to start getting ready in case he becomes president.
“There’s a puzzling mood within the administration on the unexpected turn of events in the U.S. presidential election,” the Evening Fuji reported recently. “The foreign ministry has already made an internal document that compares Trump and Ronald Reagan,” the tabloid paper reported.
“But the biggest concern for Japan is his foreign and security policies as he keeps saying things like ‘China and Japan are taking jobs away from the U.S.’ and ‘We should demand Japan pay more for the support of U.S. forces in Japan.’”
But Trump’s strong stance against China might actually be a boon for Japan, political scientist Genki Fujii was quoted as saying. “Trump would most likely take a strong measure over issues like the South China Sea. This would help Japan,” Fujii told the paper. “He may be someone whom the Abe administration can talk to.”
Trump’s remarks creates “mayhem” for the Abe administration
Trump has “thrown a bean ball” at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration with his remarks on withdrawing American forces from the country, the Nikkan Gendai wrote last week.
“The thing about Trump’s remarks is that many Americans share the same ideas,” Naoto Amaki, a former Japanese ambassador to Lebanon, told the tabloid.
“We’d better think that Trump is simply speaking on the American people’s behalf,” he continued. “I won't deny there is a possibility that the U.S. will some day ask to review U.S.-Japan security treaty from scratch and dissolve the alliance.”
Because Trump is a businessman, he’d probably pursue realistic policies as president and probably wouldn’t demand the dissolution of the alliance, Amaki said. That could have an even worse result: Trump could demand that Japan “shed blood for the U.S. as an allied country."
Under the American-imposed pacifist constitution, Japan has been constrained militarily, only able to act in self-defense. But Abe has reinterpreted the constitution to allow Japan’s military to act in more situations. That could open it up to being forced to act with the United States, the former ambassador said. “Whether to shed blood or spend more money, Japan is in danger of having no choice but accepting either request."
Japan will be in trouble if President Trump becomes a reality, the tabloid concluded.
“What would become of Japan if ‘President Trump’ were born?”
“The ‘wild child’ of a lost big power is engulfing people in his crazy whirlpool,” the weekly magazine Shukan Shincho reported last month.
Trump “was a joker and considered as a buffoon in the beginning, but now he’s jumped to a position of a probable winner,” the magazine reported. That’s bad news for Japan, it said.
“He lacks the sensitive nature that’s necessary for diplomacy and he’s just calling for making America’s national interest a top priority,” the magazine quoted Yoshihisa Komori, a U.S.-based Japanese journalist, as saying.
Trump’s insistence on Japan paying more for hosting U.S. military bases would be a particular challenge for the country, Komori said. “Trump thinks the situation is not give-and-take, but give-and-give. So he would make Japan spend more.”
Yuki Oda contributed reporting for this post.