President Trump and Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe met Friday at the “very famous White House,” as Trump called it, where they held a joint press conference before a trip to Florida to golf and stay at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
In their remarks, both leaders emphasized the importance of the relationship between Japan and the U.S., with Trump calling it the “cornerstone of peace and stability in the Pacific region.” Trump also revealed that he and Abe became total bros after their meeting at Trump Tower in November.
On Friday, Trump said he didn’t shake Abe’s hand when the prime minister arrived at the White House, he “grabbed him and hugged him because that’s the way we feel.” Trump added: “We have a very, very good bond. Very, very good chemistry. I’ll let you know if it changes, but I don’t think it will,” Trump added.
At one point Trump thanked Abe and the people of Japan for “hosting our armed forces,” a noticeable departure from the campaign trail when he complained that Japan did not pay the full cost of hosting U.S. military bases. As a candidate, Trump also blasted the treaty that calls on the U.S. to defend Japan but does not require the Japanese to come to the aide of the U.S. in case of attack.
“You know we have a treaty with Japan, where if Japan is attacked, we have to use the full force and might of the United States,” he said in August. “If we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to do anything. They can sit home and watch Sony television.”
One of the two reporters Trump called on at the presser asked him about the Ninth Circuit Court’s refusal to reinstate his travel ban. “We’ll be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country,” he said. “You’ll be seeing that sometime next week. In addition we will continue to go through the court process and ultimately I have no doubt that we’ll win that particular case.”
Abe’s remarks included some sly stroking of Trump’s ego as he congratulated the president for his election win and hyped his golf game. Asked twice by U.S. journalists to comment on Trump’s cancellation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Abe would only say “we are aware of President Trump’s decision.”
The highlight of the afternoon came not at the presser but when Trump and Abe shook hands for a good 20 seconds in the Oval Office as photographers snapped their pictures. Watch Abe’s face as he pulls away. You may recall seeing that look on the faces of loved ones last November 8.