Extra plush red carpet rollout . . .
Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako of Japan have completed their first visit with a head of state since ascending to the throne and welcoming in the ‘Reiwa’ era earlier this month. U.S. President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended formal ceremonies at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo this week, exchanged gifts with the emperor, and attend an elaborate banquet. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also treated the Trumps to a round of golf and a sumo wrestling event.
Political theatre . . .
As far as Trump’s official travels go, this trip was unusual by normal diplomatic standards in that it was short (only four days) and included no other visits to neighbouring countries. The topic of trade did come up when Trump put pressure on Abe to sign a trade deal in August that could, according to the U.S. president, correct the trade imbalance between the two countries. On the issue of North Korea, the U.S. president said he was not bothered by Pyongyang’s recent missile tests, a comment that raised eyebrows across Japan.
Abe-Trump bromance to resume next month . . .
Trump’s short visit to Japan was largely ceremonial; higher-stakes political meetings will happen next month when Japan hosts the G20 Summit in Osaka. While it’s unlikely that Japan and the U.S will be able to sign a trade deal this summer, Ottawa and Canadian businesses should be paying attention to how such a deal would affect their current advantages with Japan under the CPTPP. Japan will also continue to gain global attention in the year leading up to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Meanwhile, Abe will need to continue the Trump charm offensive: Japan may need to get the Pentagon’s permission to use a U.S. military base in suburban Tokyo for commercial use during the Games.
- The Asahi Shinbun: Flattery in Japan in rearview, Trump returns to DC snarls
- G20 Research Group: G20 Information Centre
- Nikkei Asian Review: Trump touts August trade deal with Japan