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U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe show off their signed caps at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, near Tokyo, on Nov. 5. (Pool/Reuters)
Politics

Abe, Trump make a show of close ties with golf diplomacy

Informal setting contrasts with the seriousness of North Korea and trade issues

TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump hit the golf course on Sunday, underscoring their close personal ties on the first day of Trump's three-day visit to Japan.

After his arrival at the U.S. Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo in the morning, Trump headed to a country club in Kawagoe, near the Japanese capital, where Abe was waiting.

After a hamburger lunch, the two leaders played golf together with Japanese professional golfer Hideki Matsuyama, who joined the pair at the request of the Japanese government, which was eager to show Trump a good time.

Abe presented Trump with a white cap embroidered with the words: "Donald & Shinzo Make Alliance Even Greater." The gesture was aimed at showing solidarity between the two allies amid North Korea's continued nuclear and missile development, which will be a key agenda item for the summit meeting between Abe and Tump on Monday.

Abe brought four caps -- one for Trump, one for Matsuyama, one for himself and a third for the country club, which the three players autographed.

Abe and Trump played for about two hours, with TV cameras capturing what looked like friendly round. According to a Japanese official, Trump took the first tee shot for the first hole, followed by Abe, then Matsuyama.

Abe earlier said jokingly that their scores were a "a state secret."

U.S. President Donald Trump departs after a round of golf with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Japan on Nov. 5.   © Reuters

During Trump's three-day stay in Tokyo, other issues, including Japan-U.S. trade, are likely to be on the agenda. The informal setting may have been a good place to broach the touchy subject. Trump has in the past complained about Japanese trade practices.

This was the first golf outing for Abe and Trump since they played at Trump Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida in February. The course they played on, the Kasumigaseki Country Club, will be the venue for the golf events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Do you live in Asia? How do you feel about Trump visiting the region?

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  • Who will be the strongest political force in East Asia in 2030? US? China? Other?
  • Is the US an indispensable economic partner or should Asia become more self-sufficient?

Email us your answers to: nar01@nex.nikkei.co.jp

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