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Motegi's appointment as foreign minister in September, following his role as minister for economic and fiscal policy, has made him a standout candidate for the post- Abe era. (Photo by Keiki Kashiwabara)
Inside Japanese politics

Japan's 'Trump whisperer' emerges as potential Abe successor

Foreign Minister Motegi is a Harvard-educated savvy negotiator

MASAYA KATO and RINTARO TOBITA, Nikkei staff writers | Japan

TOKYO -- In the still-open race to succeed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, modern Japan's longest-serving leader, one name has quickly gained currency -- a name that U.S. President Donald Trump knows well.

"Too tough" was how Trump described Toshimitsu Motegi to Abe in a May telephone call, when Motegi was serving as the prime minister's point man for negotiating a trade deal with the U.S.

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