President Donald Trump, the host with the most, once again welcomes Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Mar-a-Lago to renew their ‘leaders of the free world’ vows. News out of the White House indicates the visit will revolve around North Korea, Trans-Pacific Partnership, and tariffs.
Curiously missing from the official schedule is time for hitting the links; golf was where Trump and Abe first bonded. With a bit of tension in the air over international trade, it seems a good 18 holes might ease the current strain.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
It is clear that Trump’s sudden determination to have a personal heart-to-heart with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un has set Abe on edge. Mike Pompeo, acting Secretary of State, stated that the summit with North Korea is “to address the threat to the United States.” The glaring omission of other allied nations was a shock; Abe hasn’t quite grasped The Donald’s quirky communication style.
The two presidents have previously been in sync on all things related to handling Kim, and not receiving the latest memo prior to the Twitter announcements might not jive. After all, only 648 miles separate North Korea from Japan, and Trump’s proposed summit will impact the security of both nations. Japan is in range of North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile, and Abe should be dialed into these discussions.
Also on the docket will most likely be intense discussions about Trump’s recently imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum. During the White House Briefing, Sarah Sanders stated that the Palm Beach summit would include discussions that “explore ways to expand fair and reciprocal trade and investment ties between the United States and Japan, two of the world’s wealthiest and most innovative economies.”
Japan has not yet been exempted from these tariffs; Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary, politely made this observation. “We have repeatedly told the U.S. side that steel and aluminum imports from its ally Japan will not adversely affect America’s national security and that Japan should be excluded.”
Well, we shall see. Anything is possible.
ALL WORK AND NO PLAY
With a packed schedule that does not include hitting the links, Trump and Abe are scheduled for a bit of socializing with their better halves, First Ladies’ Melania and Akie, at the resort. Akie is well-known for her high-spiritedness, and it’s rumored she pretend not to speak English to avoid conversing with her husband’s new bestie while they hosted the newly minted U.S. president in Japan. She’s a firecracker, alright. Maybe Trump and Akie will also reach a mutual détente over crab cakes and sparkling cider. It could happen.
And while tensions in the exclusive world leader club can be overblown by those who want Trump to fail at all costs, the relationship between the two men is strong and based on mutual interests for their people and a healthy dose of respect for one another. There are sure to be missteps in the quest to keep the world secure from dictators and terrorists; sometimes it’s a thankless job fraught with unimaginable pressures. Trump and Abe will work through the tensions in the face of stress and strife. Perhaps three days in Palm Beach will rectify the misunderstandings and put the bromance back on track.