President Donald Trump welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to "the very famous" White House on Friday:
In his brief remarks before their joint press conference, Trump praised Japan as an "important and steadfast ally." Abe in turn praised Trump's "uphill struggle" to become president and noted that his own "scores in golf are not up to the level of Donald at all."
"Abe has studied Trump well," noted CNN's David Chalian. "He knows to praise [Trump's] outsider status and impressive campaign victory." CNN's Dan Merica called Abe's compliments on Trump's golf prowess an attempt to "butter" the president up.
The Japanese prime minister also encouraged a partnership between the nations in which Japanese high speed rail technology could be used to shorten a trip between New York City and D.C. to an hour. "Of course there are disagreements [between Japan and the U.S.], but we should not close down a dialogue just by pointing to the differences," Abe went on. Abe refrained from commenting on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, saying it would be discussed later but that "we are fully aware of President Trump's decision" to withdraw from the agreement, which was brokered by former President Barack Obama.
While Abe was speaking in Japanese, reporters in the room noted that President Trump did not use a headset to listen to a translation, although he continued to nod along. But Trump's warm feelings about Abe were not lost in translation: "I grabbed [Abe] and hugged him because that's the way we feel," Trump said. "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."