US President Donald Trump will use golf diplomacy to further strengthen his personal rapport with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during his upcoming visit to Japan. Japan is the first stop of Trump on his maiden five- nation Asia trip as the US president.Trump, 71, will embark on a 12-day trip to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Hawaii from today till November 14. On Sunday afternoon, the US president and 63-year-old Abe will play golf with Japanese professional golfer Hideki Matsuyama, Takehiro Shimada, Minister of Communications and Cultural Affairs at the Embassy of Japan said here ahead of Trump’s visit to Japan.
Notably about 60 years ago, 1957, in June, Abe’s father, Prime Ministers Nobusuke Kishi, played golf with then US President Dwight D Eisenhower at the Burning Tree golf course. “And they had very nice time and I heard that at that time, the president hit the – almost like 72 or 74, and prime minister Kishi only 99,” Shimada said. Asked by the president, Eisenhower then said golf is a kind of sports that you cannot play with whom you don’t like. “That is his comment. So I hope that even the Prime Minister Abe would have good time and whatever the score he may hit to deepen – to make use of this opportunity to deepen his personal tie with the president,” the Japanese diplomat said.
Trump would spend two nights and three days in Japan during which he will hold a wide range of talks with top Japanese leaders, including his sixth meeting with Abe in less than a year. Abe and Trump has had six meetings since the latter’s election and the two have spoken over phone as many as 16 times.While North Korea is expected to dominate the talks, Trump is likely to reiterate his iron-clad commitment to Japan, officials here said. “The most important part of the two leaders to discuss is how to strengthen the ironclad US-Japan alliance and this alliance covers almost everything, from the security issues to the economic issues…I am sure that he will discuss almost every aspect of the Asian region challenges,” he said.
Trump’s visit to Japan, he hoped, will enhance peace and stability in Asia-Pacific region. “Japan-US alliance is the cornerstone of that peace and stability, and alliance is stronger than ever,” he said, adding that Abe’s success in reinforcing Japan’s strong ties with United States was one of the factors that led to his overwhelming electoral victory last month. Trump’s visit to Japan comes at an opportune moment for them to discuss issues facing international community and demonstrate the world the strong bond between the two countries amidst the increasingly severe security environment surrounding the Asia-Pacific region, he said.
Noting that Japan remains deeply concerned about the threat posed by North Korea, he said Japan fully supports the US position, that all options are on the table when it comes to North Korea. “Now is the time to exert utmost pressure. We especially appreciate the new sanctions the United States imposed against North Korea last week. We will explore how we can strengthen and reinforce the UN-backed sanctions regime during President Trump’s visit,” he said.