Japan's Shinzo Abe became the first foreign leader to meet President Trump after the U.S. election, and he returns for another face-to-face on Tuesday.
This double blow came as a surprise to Abe: Since Trump became president, more than any other foreign politician, the Japanese PM had sought closer friendship with the U.S. leader.
The approach between the second and third economies of the world comes at a momento in which both fear to suffer the consequences of the protectionist measures led by the president of the United States, Donald Trump. This is based on the "unmentioned swipe" at the Trump administration in relation to a possible trade war. First and foremost, Abe and Trump will need to talk about Kim Jong-un.
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So one of the main goals of Abe's visit to the USA is to dispel the abovementioned fears, to demonstrate the unity of views on the North Korean issue, and to give impetus to mutual efforts to coordinate actions regarding the North Korean nuclear issue. In March, Japan was conspicuously not given an exemption from the United States' Section 232 sanctions on steel and aluminum, unlike other close partners, such as Canada, Mexico, and South Korea.
While Japan and China do not necessarily see eye to eye on all trade matters - Mr Kono said he broached such issues as fair and free transfers of technology, intellectual property exchanges and Chinese steel overproduction - they are prepared to collaborate on a wide range of sectors.
Japan's Finance Minister Taro Aso recently rejected a bilateral trade deal with the US, having played for time in several rounds of talks with US Vice President Mike Pence.
Even a new trade agreement may not reduce America's trade deficit with Japan by much.
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"I think Abe has discovered the limits of personal diplomacy with an erratic character like Trump who prioritises America first, not the alliance", Professor Kingston said.
Takehiro Shimada, a spokesperson for the Embassy of Japan, said the country can't accept Trump's decision on the tariffs and will be pushing Trump to reconsider.
"Abe appears unable to shake off the scandals", said Graham, though he pointed out "there was a time when serving Japanese Prime Ministers would be lucky to register more than 20% popularity ratings". Trump pulled the US out of TPP shortly after his inauguration in early 2017. But he has suffered plummeting poll ratings over allegations that a nationalist school linked to his wife got preferential government treatment in a land sale. There are also other foreign policy priorities for Washington. Abe wants to amend the clause denying Japan a full-fledged military and cast off some of the postwar shackles. Worsening U.S. relations with Moscow also limit Abe's ability to negotiate a peace treaty with Russian leader Vladimir Putin-a project that has stalled as Russia's relations with Europe and the United States have worsened.
As for trade and economic issues, they are not simple for Abe either. Both will want to spend time away from cameras, trying to resolve their differences and putting a strong statesman-like face on as they struggle through this increasingly fraught era.
First Alert Forecast: stormy finish to weekend
South winds 10 to 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph, increasing to 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph in the afternoon. Visibility restrictions are not expected, but a smokey smell may continue for part of the day with highs in the 60s.