Now, with Trump in Japan on Saturday for a four-day visit, Abe can justifiably say “I told you so.”
Traits that last year left him out of step with Washington — his hawkishness on North Korea and a testy relationship with Beijing — now look more attractive, with Trump facing renewed challenges from Pyongyang and seeking a counterbalance to China amid a rapidly worsening trade war.
For most of Trump’s first term, Abe has seemed like the friend who comes on too strong.
With the twin pillars of Trump’s Asia policy wobbling and threatening to fall, the timing of his Japan trip couldn’t be better for Abe.
A trade deal with Japan that offers relief for US consumers or farmers could be a major win for Trump, and would help Washington maintain pressure on China.
Trump may also need Japan’s support on security issues — and not just with North Korea.
After years of being a bit player in Trump’s Asia strategy, Abe’s investments in his relationship with the US President could finally be paying off — Reiwa may herald a renewed, stronger relationship between Washington and Tokyo.
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