Donald Trump is accused at times of acting like a king, but when the US president becomes the first foreign leader to meet Japan’s newly enthroned Emperor Naruhito next week, he can expect truly royal treatment from eager-to-please allies.The decision by Japan to put Trump at the head of the line for Naruhito illustrates the unique bond between the one-time bitterest of enemies, while delivering rival China a timely reminder that the United States is not alone in Asia.
Yes, there could be tension when Trump, who lands in Tokyo with his wife Melania on Saturday, discusses trade during one-on-one talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Even if Trump delayed for six months a decision on adding tariffs against Japanese and EU auto imports, his declaration last week that US reliance on foreign vehicles poses a national security risk has irked giants like Toyota.
But the accent will be on the positive in Japan, where Abe has staked much on his close personal relationship with the colorful, unpredictable US leader.
The official highlight is Trump’s state visit early Monday with Naruhito and a banquet that night at the imperial palace.
This will be the emperor’s first date with a foreign head of state since ascending to the Chrysanthemum Throne on April 30, following his father Akihito’s abdication. In contrast, most world leaders will have to wait until elaborate festivities in October to meet Naruhito.This will “demonstrate that the alliance between the United States has never been stronger,” said a senior Trump administration official, who asked not to be identified.