Abe is heading to U.S. Pres. Abe has never issued a critical statement about Trump.
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File).
The prime minister can't even play up his strong ties with Trump since the American president has been publicly attacking Japan over trade and did not grant Japan the exemption to new steel tariffs that was given to other allies.
WEST PALM BEACH, Florida-U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will seek common ground on how to deal with North Korea's nuclear challenge on Tuesday amid fears in Tokyo that Trump might be prone to make too many concessions. "As head of the government, I'm committed to deal with every single problem responsibly to uncover the truth and squeeze out the pus", he said. The two leaders plan to golf, as at their two previous summits.
The pledge by the two countries, at their first high-level economic dialogue since 2010, came as both bear the brunt of protectionist policies by the United States which have threatened to upend the global economic order.
The Abe government is also in a spot of bother over the allegations against Junichi Fukuda, the country's vice finance minister, that he had been sexually harassing women reporters often.
It isn't just that both men are weighed down by political troubles at home - Abe by a land-sale scandal and Trump by a persistent investigation involving Russian Federation and his sexual indulgences.
The Finance Ministry last month admitted to altering documents relating to the sale of land in Osaka to a nationalist school with links to Akie Abe, including deleting her name and the prime minister's name from the papers. Last week, during several hours of "study sessions" with specialist civil servants, the prime minister acted out several scenarios for his talks with Trump. She quit the post after the scandal surfaced in February previous year. His tough response to North Korean missile testing last year was a key part of his election campaign during last year's snap election.
The scandals have called into question Abe's chances of securing a third term as party leader this September, which seemed assured earlier this year, and could even force him to step down before the leadership race. Other party leaders with an eye on the premiership are ready to pounce should Abe fall, though he has bounced back from setbacks before. He also is expected to ask the USA leader to raise with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un the issue of Japanese abducted by North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s.
Kim has already met Chinese President Xi Jinping and is holding talks with South Korean President Moon Jae-in next week before an expected meeting with Trump in late May or June.
Japan has been "unhappily" sidelined and caught by surprise particularly over the North Korea talks, according to Jeffrey Kingston, Temple University of Japan's Director of Asian Studies.
Abe has voiced fears that short- and medium-range missiles that pose a threat to Japan might not be part of the USA negotiations, and has said he worries Trump may "end up accepting North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons".
On trade, Abe got a fleeting glimmer of hope last week when it emerged that Trump was weighing a return to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the regional free-trade pact long supported by the Japanese.