Trump awards massive President's Cup trophy to sumo wrestling champion

Clay Curtis
May 26, 2019

"But that's OK, maybe that's why you like us so much", Trump told leaders from some of Japan's leading companies, including Toyota, Honda and Nissan.

Trump's remarks Sunday were not the first time he has appeared to undercut Bolton, who often briefs reporters on the administration's hard-line stances on geopolitical powder kegs like Iran, North Korea and Venezuela, only to find the president walking back his assertions soon after.

As he opened a four-day visit that will focus on security, diplomacy and trade - and is filled with flourishes created to please Trump and highlight the close ties between the two leaders - the president appeared to risk ratcheting up Japanese anxiety that any nuclear agreement with North Korea could neglect their concerns.

With Trump's relations with the leaders of the U.K., Germany, Canada and other allies strained, Abe has worked more than any other leader to try to keep Trump engaged with global institutions, Green said, adding that it is critical for Japan's survival.

The scheduled encounter has raised some controversy in Japan, with protests taking place ahead of the United States president's visit.

Air Force One touched down at Haneda International Airport just before 4 a.m. ET almost (5 p.m. local time), according to pool reports. Trump, dressed in a red pullover, and Abe, wearing a blue blazer and white trousers, smiled for photographers before taking off for their game, which took place in 30 degree Celsius (86 F) temperatures as an unseasonal heat wave blasts Japan.

The state visit will provide an altogether more pleasant vibe than in Washington, where talk of impeachment is now rampant and Trump is seething at Democrats' investigations into his administration.

President Trump has already met Japanese business leaders.

But it was all smiles on Sunday as the two leaders played golf and later, with wives Melania and Akie, watched giant sumo wrestlers grapple on the final day of a 15-day tournament won by rising Japanese star Asanoyama.

On that front, he's largely succeeded.

Japan is ready to roll out the newest phase of its charm offensive targeting President Donald Trump as it welcomes him on a state visit tailor-made to his whims and ego.

The payoff for Abe's courtship is less clear.

The president has refused to lift the threat of slapping potentially devastating USA tariffs on imports of Japanese autos and auto parts on national security grounds.

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Abe has cultivated, perhaps, the closest relationship with Trump of any world leader.

"With all the countries of the world, I'm the guest of honour at the biggest event that they've had in over 200 years", Mr Trump said before the trip.

Trump will also present the victor of Tokyo's spring sumo wrestling tournament a trophy after taking in a few rounds from ringside seats, an engagement that White House officials say he's been anticipating eagerly.

President Trump, however, has no concerns, and he said as much in a Tweet that is hard to read as anything but a direct reaction to Bolton.

The trophy is called the "President's Cup", the official said.

The visit marks the first official state visit of the Reiwa era, meaning "beautiful harmony," which began on May 1, when Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne following his 85-year-old father's abdication.

"Donald Trump likes pageantry. The Japanese diplomatic agenda meant that whoever was president, they had to have the American president first".

On Sunday, Trump and Abe are expected to play golf and attend a sumo match.

Trump will also address troops at a USA base in Japan, highlighting the military alliance between the two allies at a time when tensions are running higher with North Korea after the failure of the Hanoi summit in February.

Trump and Abe will likely discuss the importance of coordinating North Korea strategy, "essentially the balance between pressuring the Kim Jong-un regime and exploring opportunities for diplomacy", Nicholas Szechenyi, another Japan expert from the center, added during Wednesday's teleconference.

Bolton also said that short-range missile tests by the North on May 4 and May 9 violate U.N. Security Council resolutions that prohibit the communist nation from launching ballistic missiles.

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