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Trump and Japan

Reality Check for Abe and the President

U.S. President Donald Trump Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (C) and his wife Akie Abe (L) leave after posing for a photograph before attending dinner at Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., February 11, 2017. Carlos Barria / Reuters

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe got even more out of his February 19­–20 summit with U.S. President Donald Trump than he had expected. The question is how long their apparent goodwill can last, especially given the anti-Japan mood of much of Trump’s voting base.

During the meeting, Abe won virtually all the affirmations on security issues that he had sought, including a repeat of former U.S. President Barack Obama’s commitment to defend Japan if China tried to seize the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands (known by the Chinese as Diaoyu Islands) in the East China Sea. Trump also reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the defense of Japan in response to a missile test by North Korea. In addition, Abe avoided being publicly criticized by Trump on any of the issues on which Trump had lambasted Tokyo prior to the summit, including accusations of currency manipulation and security freeriding.

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