Sumo, selfies, and nuclear relations: 5 top moments from Trump’s visit to Japan

President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shake hands prior to their meeting at the Akasaka Palace, the State Guest House on May 27, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images
  • President Donald Trump is currently on a four-day state visit to Japan.
  • Trump is travelling closely with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe throughout his visit.
  • The president’s public appearances have surfaced questions over Iran, North Korea, and US trade policy, but he’s also turned heads at a sumo tournament, on the golf course, and in a selfie.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories

President Donald Trump is currently on a four-day state visit to Japan aimed at showing off the strong relationship between the two nations.

Trump and Abe have had successful public meetings before, and this trip, with its golf round, selfie, and sumo tournament appearance, has painted a similarly in-sync time for the two leaders.

However, the trip has also surfaced some serious policy matters for Trump, including North Korea, Iran, and the future of US trade. See some key moments of Trump’s trip so far.

Trump and Abe kicked off their public appearances on the trip by posing for a rare selfie while playing golf Sunday.

The photo shows Trump and Abe smiling broadly while playing golf at Mobara Country Club, around an hour’s drive east of Tokyo, Japan’s capital.

Shinzo and Trump are both keen golfers and have played together before.

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The leaders and first ladies later attended the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament in Tokyo on Sunday night.

President Donald Trump, First Lady Melania Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie watch sumo bouts on day fifteen of the Grand Sumo May Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan on May 26, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Trump presented the winner with the newly made “Trump Trophy.”

The president also broke several traditions during his visit to the tournament, breaking from past precedent to give a presentation between matches. And while viewers generally sit on cushions on the ground, called zabutons, Trump and his wife, Melania, were given chairs.

People who enter the elevated dirt wrestling ring – called a dohyo – are supposed to be barefoot, but Trump wore slippers as he handed out the award. Some members of the Japanese media suggested that the ring would now have to be reconsecrated after Trump’s presentation, according to the Washington Post.

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Before a public discussion with Abe, Trump met with the families of Japanese citizens who were abducted by North Korea.

President Donald Trump listens to Sakie Yokota, the mother of Megumi who was kidnapped by North Korean agents at the age of 13 in 1977. Kimimasa Mayama – Pool/Getty Images

The Japenese nationals were abducted decades ago to serve as trainers for North Korean spies to become fluent in Japanese language and customs.

North Korea has admitted kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 80s and returned five to Japan in 2002, according to the BBC. The country has insisted the rest are dead, but Japan has not accepted that response.

Trump said in the press conference after this meeting that the families were “appreciative” of his visit and he intended to “do everything I can for the resolution of this issue,” in the future.

Trump made statements about trade, as well as North Korea, and Iran, during a joint press conference with Abe on Monday ahead of their bilateral meeting.

President Donald Trump speaks during a joint press conference with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo on May 27, 2019. KIYOSHI OTA/AFP/Getty Images

Trump appeared to differ with his own advisors and Abe himself when he said he was “not bothered” by North Korea’s missile tests earlier this month.

“My people think it could have been a violation, as you know,” Trump said, noting that no nuclear or long-range missiles had been tested. “I view it differently.”

Abe said he disagreed with Trump’s view on North Korea’s missile testing but added that he agreed with Trump on efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Trump said there has been a “tremendous imbalance” of trade between the US and Japan and that both countries are working to bridge the gap.

Despite the friendly disposition between the leaders, Trump stressed that the US was not pleased with its nearly $US60 billion trade deficit towards Japan. Trump has threatened to impose higher tariffs on imports of Japanese auto parts unless the two nations can iron out the difference.

“There’s been a tremendous imbalance and we’re working on that,” Trump said of trade between the two nations, adding that the US needed to “do a little catching up with Japan.”

“They have been doing much more business with us, we’d like to do a little bit more business in the reverse, we’ll get the balance of trade I think straightened out rapidly.”

Trump also said he was open to improving US relations with Iran.

“I do believe that Iran would like to talk and if they’d like to talk, we’d like to talk also,” newswire AFP reported him as saying. “Nobody wants to see terrible things happen, especially me.”

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Trump became the first world leader to meet Japan’s Emperor Naruhito since he ascended to the throne earlier this month.

President Donald Trump makes a toast with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito during a state banquet at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on May 27, 2019. BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Trump met with the 59-year-old and his wife, Empress Masako, in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo following an elaborate procession in an outdoor welcome ceremony. The president and first lady walked down a red carpet past a Japanese honour guard and were excitedly greeted by crowds waving US and Japanese flags.

The emperor exchanged gifts with Trump, as is customary, handing the US president an item of traditional Japenese pottery, while Trump gave Naruhito an American-made viola. Both sides also swapped signed and framed photos of one another, according to the Washington Post.

“It’s a very important thing, not only in Japan, but all over the world they’re talking about it,” Trump later said of his meeting with the emperor.

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Here’s everything you need to know about Emperor Naruhito, who has taken over the throne in Japan after the country’s first abdication in 200 years