Japan is covering all the strategic bases as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prepares to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday, aiming to steer clear of a free trade pact no matter what tack Washington takes.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on February 7, "It's extremely important (for the prime minister) to build a personal relationship of trust (with the president)", justifying Abe's golf diplomacy.
Donald Trump plays a round of golf after the opening of The Trump International Golf Links Course on July 10, 2012 in Balmedie, Scotland.
Trump is scheduled to welcome Abe to the White House on Friday. After the British Prime Minister, this would be Trump's second meeting with a foreign leader in the Oval Office.
But for all the economic quid pro quo with this most transactional of USA presidents, the one-on-one that time on the golf course offers could be Abe's best bet for building a stronger relationship. Japanese officials are optimistic the invitation to visit Trump's "Winter White House", an exclusive club he owns in Palm Beach, signals a more positive outcome.
Abe and Trump are both golf enthusiasts, and on Saturday, they will reportedly play a round of golf at Trump's Mar-A-Lago resort in Florida.
Abe is expected to make 700,000 jobs in the USA and create new markets worth $ 450 billion over the next 10 years in order to win Trump's favor. "If the United States grows, without a doubt that benefits Japan".
The primary mission of Abe's trip is to "show anew to the world that the Japan-U.S. alliance is unshakable" in dealing with security challenges, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference. "It may not be necessarily a good idea to get too close or friendly with someone like Mr. Trump, who seems to be impulsive or simple-minded". Japan is prepared to respond in kind, insisting the USA open up its market for public contracts and abolish import tariffs on automobiles, which would stoke the ire of American automakers.
While Japan's economy still relies heavily on exports for growth, its officials are eager to alter lingering perceptions that the trade advantage is skewed to Japan, a view based on trade wars fought with the US decades ago.
Ogushi was referring to Trump's recent executive order that restricts immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, a policy that has been met with global opposition.
Japan's has responded firmly but politely, taking issue with Trump's assertions when it disagrees, but avoiding comment on issues such as the travel ban.
As the Japanese official put it, "We have no choice but to ride with the United States, whoever the president is".