Trump meets Japanese Emperor as he begins business portion of state visit


Tokyo (CNN)After a day of casual diplomatic male bonding, President Donald Trump entered the more stately portion of his visit to Japan on Monday, honoring the country’s newly enthroned Emperor and sitting for trade- and security-focused talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

In a sunny outdoor ceremony at the Imperial Palace, Trump shook hands with Emperor Naruhito and his wife, engaging warmly as he became the first foreign leader to meet the new monarch. Later he reviewed a cordon of Japanese troops and greeted yellow-hatted schoolchildren waving flags.

Those were more buttoned-up occasions than the round of golf, sumo wrestling tournament and hibachi dinner the President enjoyed Sunday. In manners-conscious Japan, Trump’s interactions with the monarch and his wife were closely scrutinized. And his talks with Abe will come after a Sunday tweet from Trump threw into question the leaders’ alignment on North Korea.

Trump has also sounded bullish in his bid to negotiate a new trade deal with Japan that reduces a $68 billion trade deficit. He’s ignored Abe’s pleas to remove tariffs on steel and aluminum, though he did delay new auto tariffs for six months while a deal is worked out. He said this week that real work on a new trade agreement would not begin until after Japanese parliamentary elections in July.

The business portion of the visit will also include a news conference and an imperial banquet, all meant to underscore strong US-Japan ties that Abe hopes to reinforce through his close personal friendship with Trump.

Whether his courtship efforts are paying off remains an open question, and Trump’s tweet downplaying the severity of North Korean short range missile tests on Sunday undercut Abe’s views on the matter.

There was no mention of the episode during Trump and Abe’s multiple joint outings Sunday, which included 16 holes at a golf course south of Tokyo, ringside seats at a sumo wrestling tournament and a dinner double date with their wives over grilled Wagyu beef and vanilla ice cream.

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