Is Abe los­ing con­fi­dence in Trump and his friend­ship?

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Views - The au­thor is China Daily Tokyo bureau chief. cai­hong@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Emerg­ing from the Trump Tower in New York City in Novem­ber 2016, Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe said he was con­vinced that Don­ald Trump “is a leader in whom I can have con­fi­dence”. Abe be­came the first head of gov­ern­ment to visit the US pres­i­dent-elect, and since then he has been busy try­ing to forge a close re­la­tion­ship with Trump, with their com­mon out­door pur­suit — golf — act­ing as a lu­bri­cant.

“When you play golf with some­one not just once, but two times, the per­son must be your fa­vorite guy,” Abe said in Novem­ber last year when Trump vis­ited Japan.

Dur­ing his Tokyo visit, Trump said he en­joyed ev­ery minute of the time he spent with Abe. Their chem­istry, as Trump called it, does not nec­es­sar­ily mean Japan is in Trump’s good books, es­pe­cially as Trump’s lat­est de­ci­sions have shocked, if not scared, Tokyo.

When Trump agreed to meet with Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, Japan felt left out. Learn­ing of Trump’s plans, Abe im­me­di­ately an­nounced he would visit the US pres­i­dent in April, a month be­fore the planned Trump-Kim meet­ing.

It is not hard to un­der­stand Japan’s sense of alien­ation. Japan was the staunch­est sup­porter of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “max­i­mum pres­sure” cam­paign against the DPRK, say­ing “talks for the sake of talks” would be un­ac­cept­able.

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