Asia Minute: President Trump’s Japan Trip

May 22, 2019

Credit D. Myles Cullen / Official White House Photos

President Trump is heading to Japan this week. He’s also going back next month for a meeting of regional leaders, but the trip starting later this week may have less policy substance than photo opportunities.

President Trump is going to be the first foreign leader to greet the new Japanese emperor Naruhito as a state guest. There are plans for a dinner at the Imperial Palace, at least one round of golf with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and a visit to a helicopter carrier of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force.

And then there’s the sumo.

This has become a minor obsession for some in the local media — the president will attend the last day of a 15-day tournament. Plans are for him to present a special trophy to the winner.

But there are concerns about security — even seating.

The goal would be to get the president close to the action, but not so close that one or more of the sumo wrestlers might fall on him.

Plus there are the flying cushions.

After the last bout of the day, fans close to the ring sometimes fling their large seat cushions, and no one wants the president’s head or hair to be disturbed.

Kyodo News reports there will be a news conference, but likely no “joint statement” because of policy differences on North Korea and bi-lateral trade.

Kyodo quotes a Foreign Ministry source as saying the government “plans to explain to the public that there is no need to prepare a new statement, as the two countries issued one following the leaders’ summit in February 2017 in Washington.”

Besides, President Trump will be back in Japan next month for the G-20 summit.