Photo/IllutrationU.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on Nov. 6. (Takeshi Iwashita)

Hayato Ikeda, who served as prime minister between 1960 and 1964 and advocated the so-called income doubling plan for all citizens, probably believed that the success of his policy hinged on boosting exports.

Ikeda apparently wore this conviction on his sleeve when he visited Europe. French President Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) famously referred to him as a "transistor radio salesman."

Going through newspapers from that time, however, I could not find any article about Ikeda overtly promoting Japanese products. Perhaps he made his sales pitch only backstage, such as in the privacy of his summit with de Gaulle.

It was a time when Japanese exports were starting to take off.

And now, we appear to have a visiting "arms salesman" in the form of U.S. President Donald Trump, who unabashedly pushed American weapons in public.

At a joint news conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump declared that one very important thing is Abe “is going to be purchasing massive amounts of military equipment, as he should.”

While touting their superior capabilities--that they can speedily and instantaneously shoot down missiles from the sky, and so on--Trump went on to add that their sales would mean "a lot of jobs" for Americans.

The bluntness of his spiel took me aback to the point of wondering if I'd misheard. Apparently, I still want to believe in the dignity of the U.S. presidency.

Jon Spoelstra, a sports marketer who authored "Ice to the Eskimos: How to Market a Product Nobody Wants," stresses the importance of making one's client a "bona fide, real-life hero."

I could not help thinking of Spoelstra’s ground rule when I heard Trump repeating he was standing up to North Korea's threat together with Japanese citizens. In Trump's mind, the line between dealing with North Korea and conducting business with Japan is probably much more blurred than we think.

Abe's diplomacy with Trump oozed with the spirit of "omotenashi" (hospitality) as both leaders sported identical caps and played golf with a Japanese pro.

Come to think of it, Trump proved himself to be the ultimate businessman, rivaled by none, who apparently had no qualms about hard-selling his wares to his generous host.

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 7

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.