President Trump said Monday that better mental health — not gun control — is the key to the mass shooting that claimed at least 26 lives at a Texas church.
"I think mental health is the problem here," Trump said during a news conference in Tokyo, saying the shooter in Texas was a "deranged" man who should have received treatment. "This isn't a guns situation."
Trump, who received heavy political support from the National Rifle Association and other gun owners, has been an opponent of gun control proposals that have arisen after a string of mass shootings in the United States.
Trump also noted that a resident with a gun engaged the church assailant. "Fortunately," the president said, "somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction."
The president spoke at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, the first stop in an Asia tour devoted to the issues of trade and North Korea's nuclear weapons.
Abe seconded Trump's call that nations in the region pressure North Korea into giving up its nuclear weapons, and both leaders denounced Kim Jong Un's government for making nuclear threats toward their countries.
"We will not stand for that," Trump said. "The era of strategic patience is over."
Abe, who announced Japan would soon be putting new economic sanctions on North Korea, said that "all options are on the table" regarding Kim's government, presumably including military ones.
Noting that North Korea his fired test missiles over Japan, Abe said he is less interested in "dialogue" than in applying "a maximum level of pressure" on Kim.
Trump, who will also travel to South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines over the next week, again said that other countries have unfair trade practices and closed markets, including Japan.
Abe did not seem to agree, but said he would work with Trump on trade disputes.
Earlier in the day, at a meeting with American and Japanese business leaders, Trump criticized the U.S. trade deficit with Japan. At one point, Trump said Japan should "try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over;" the Japanese built nearly 4 million cars on U.S. soil last year.
For its part, Japan has criticized Trump for pulling United States out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying the trade deal involving a dozen Pacific Rim nations would have benefited all members.
Trump and Abe were more in accord over North Korea.
Before the news conference, Trump and Abe met with relatives of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea.
"We will work with Prime Minister Abe in trying to get them back," Trump said.
The prime minister stressed a close personal bond with Trump, and played up the "unshakable" alliance between Japan and the United States.
Trump returned the favor, praising both Abe and Japan but adding that their economy was not as strong as that of the United States. "You'll be second," he told the Japanese leader.
At the start of their news conference, Abe offered condolences to the United States over Sunday's mass shooting at the Texas church, saying he is in "solidarity" with the American people.
Trump described the church attack as "horrific," and added: "Who would ever think a thing like this could happen?"