When I heard that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump was going to hold a press conference, even though it was the dead of night Japan time, I decided to try my best to wake up and watch it. The venue was the first floor of Trump Tower in New York City, and the press had gathered in large numbers.
To fight off my sleepiness, I tried to think of what issue I would begin with if I were in his place. The day before, President Barack Obama had given his farewell address, so I thought I would probably begin by complimenting President Obama on the content of his speech. Then I might say something like, "Continuing in President Obama's footsteps, I will also work hard to protect the peace and freedom of America," expressing my determination before beginning to talk about my policies. In any case, I would definitely start my press conference with talk of dreams and optimism.
No sooner had I thought that when Trump appeared, standing in front of the microphones. When he opened his mouth, his very first words were criticism of the mass media. He began by saying he had not held a press conference since being elected president because of the existence of media organizations that spread "fake news." For a long while after that, he spoke about how reports circulating that Russia had obtained his personal information was false, and sharply criticized television and other news organizations that had reported the story.
When I checked the internet for the reactions of Japanese watching the press conference, I found opinions extremely divided. "Well said. Misinformation should be battled thoroughly," some commented positively. Others reacted negatively: "What is this? I'm disappointed that someone who will become president would insult the media." For me, with the scarcity of talk about dreams and aspirations, I was left with a sinking feeling.
Forward-thinking policy talks about increasing the number of jobs in America and creating a healthcare system different from President Obama's did follow. However, it became impossible to think about dreams when I thought, "If anyone criticizes him even a little bit, Trump will probably harshly decry the criticism as fake news."
All over the world, the words spoken by a country's leader hold a certain weight that has the power to encourage or dishearten the citizens of that nation. Especially as Trump will soon become the president of Japan's close ally, there is no way his words will not have a large impact on the Japanese people as well.
Once Trump becomes president, will he change his mind and set aside his squabbles with the mass media to speak in a way that will give the American people hope, and enact his policies so that their dreams become reality? While continuing to hope that this will indeed happen, I decided to do the best I can to speak in a way that encourages and provides hope to my patients in the consultation room. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)