President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have arrived in Tokyo, Japan to meet with the nation’s new emperor and empress.
The president stopped off on the way at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska, as Air Force One landed for fuel, and he took time to meet soldiers stationed there.
In a video posted to Twitter, he said: ‘We’re here with our great military, these are great, great future leaders. And they can all be famous after this.’
Earlier, as he left the White House, the president fielded 14 minutes of questions from reporters – and none of them were about Japan, suggesting his mind was elsewhere.
He proceeded to rage about the Mueller report from aboard Air Force One.
President poses for a selfie with a member of the military during Alaska stopover
Trump meets with troops at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska
Speaking of his meeting with the military, he said: ‘These are great, great future leaders. And they can all be famous after this’
The president tweeted about meeting troops at the base
Air Force one had stopped to refuel at the air base in Alaska, giving Trump chance to shake hands with personnel
He said in a tweet several hours into the longhaul fight: ‘The Dems want a second shot at Bob Mueller, are very unhappy with the No Collusion Report. They should not be allowed to play this game any longer – no second chances – must get back to work. So bad for our Country!’
Trump told reporters on the South Lawn, before he boarded Marine One to depart for the five-day trip, that Democrats are asking for a re-do of the investigations, and they can’t have one.
He ignored questions about his intentions and plans for the visit and answered questions about his strained relationship with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the ‘transparency’ of his Attorney General Bill Barr, instead.
Since he embarked on the trip, he’s sent a single tweet acknowledging the visit. ‘Departed the @WhiteHouse and am now on Air Force One with the First Lady heading to Japan and looking forward to honoring, on behalf of the United States, His Majesty, the Emperor of Japan. I will also be discussing Trade and Military with my friend, Prime Minister @Shinzo Abe,’ he said.
A senior White House official told press before Trump left that trade negotiations were not the focus of the trip and were unlikely to come up. But Trump signaled with his tweet that he plans to will the conversation in that direction.
The president inspects a supporter’s MAGA hat in Alaska
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump departed for Tokyo, Japan on Friday
Arm-in-arm: Melania and Donald Trump headed to Marine One to start the trip to Japan
Meeting: Melania Trump walked on to the South Lawn as her husband finished speaking to reporters
Trump took several questions from reporters on the South Lawn before jetting off in Marine One, but didn’t answer any related to the Japan trip
This is Trump’s second official state visit to Japan since taking office
A portion of the five-day trip falls on Memorial Day Weekend, and this will be the first time Trump will not be in the U.S. for the holiday honoring fallen soldiers
Waiting for departure: The scene at Joint Base Andrews as reporters, Secret Service and military personnel wait for Marine One’s arrival
This is the Trumps’ second state visit to Japan. The first lady joined him on a previous visit to the country in 2017.
This trip is centered around the enthronement of the new Japanese emperor and takes place over Memorial Day weekend. This will be the first time Trump has not been in the U.S. during the holiday that honors fallen soldiers.
In 2017 and 2018, he made remarks at Arlington National Cemetery, where he also laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Trump stopped at the cemetery earlier on Thursday to hold a moment of silence for soldiers who lost their lives while serving their country. He has previously come under scrutiny for skipping over Arlington on Veteran’s Day, when he was celebrating the end of WWI with other world leaders in France.
Greeting: Trump shakes hands with an Air Force colonel as he is welcomed to Air Force One
On our way: Donald and Melania Trump climb the staircase to board Air Force One
Final step: Trump steps on to Air Force One to start the two-part flight to Tokyo for his state visit to Japan
The president and first lady are the first state guests of Emperor Naruhito, who ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, following his father’s early abdication.
The U.S. president will hold bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and give a Memorial Day speech to troops stationed at an American naval base in Yokosuka before he and Melania return to Washington.
Over the long weekend, Trump will be the guest of honor at cultural events intended to flatter the visiting leader – including a sumo wrestling tournament where he’ll present the winner with a prize – and showcase the strength of the nations’ friendship.
At the naval base he is expected to inspect one of Japan’s largest warships, the JS Kaga, which is being fitted out as what will be effectively the country’s first aircraft carrier since 1945.
‘As Japan’s first state guests following the enthronement of His Majesty Emperor Naruhito on the first of May, this visit by the President comes really at a historic moment in Japan and it demonstrates that the alliance between the United States and Japan has never been stronger,’ a senior White House official told press in advance of the first couple’s visit.
President Donald Trump heads to Tokyo on Friday for the second time in his presidency on an official state visit that’s tied to the enthronement of the new Japanese emperor
Mongolian Tamawashi (L) and ozeki Takayasu (R) compete on day seven of the Grand Sumo May Tournament at Ryogoku Kokugikan on May 17, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. Trump and Abe will attend the final day of the tournament this weekend
The U.S. president says he will give the winner of the tournament a prize, which is not being referred to informally in Japan as the Trump Cup
Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako wave to well-wishers during their first appearance after ascension at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on May 4. They’ll host Donald and Melania Trump as their first state guests next week
Firepower: Trump is expected to inspect the JS Kaga, a helicopter carrier which is to become the Japanese naval defense force’s first full-scale aircraft carrier since World War II
‘The alliance serves as the cornerstone of peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region,’ the U.S. official added. ‘The United States’ and Japan’s shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific serves as the foundation for a global partnership that strengthens security, prosperity, and a rules-based order around the world.’
Touchy topics like regional security and trade are not on the agenda, however.
Little heavy lifting is anticipated on the visit that precedes the meatier gathering of leaders of the world’s largest economies next month.
‘I think that it’s going to be a very kind of cordial, though kind of staged moment,’ said Annika Culver, associate professor of East Asian history at Florida State University.
TRUMP’S TOKYO TRIP
- Friday: Depart the White House for Japan.
- Saturday: President and first lady arrive in Tokyo.
- Sunday: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President Trump participate in an informal activity, likely golf.
- They attend the Spring Basho Sumo Tournament that’s being referred to as the ‘Trump Cup’ that evening with their wives.
- Monday: President Trump and Mrs. Trump call on the emperor and empress in an official state visit.
- The prime minister and president break off for talks, followed by a joint press conference.
- They end the day with a black-tie banquet at the Imperial Palace.
- Tuesday: The U.S president speaks to troops stationed at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka. The prime minister has invited him to inspect the JS Kaga, a helicopter carrier which is being fitted to carry F-35 strike fighters, making it a full-scale aircraft carrier
- The president and first lady return to Washington.
‘I doubt there’s going to be anything really kind of accomplished, but these kind of important continuance or feeling of positive relations.’
The American president’s trade war with China and his desire to enter into an economic agreement with Japan have been put on the back burner.
‘I don’t think that the purpose of this trip is to focus on trade. It’s really to be state guests of Their Majesties. And that’s really the heart of the visit,’ the U.S. official who spoke to press said. ‘It’s a celebration of their new roles and this new era that’s been kicked off — the Reiwa era — and a chance to celebrate the alliance.’
Trump will return to Japan in June for the convening of Group of 20 leaders that’s taking place this year in Osaka.
He says he’ll have summits with China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the annual event and travel to South Korea while he’s in the region to meet with President Moon Jae-in.
Trump is set to acknowledge the strained relations with North Korea while he is in Japan in his Memorial Day address, the senior aide to the president indicated.
The official said Trump would ‘talk about the importance of the alliance in deterring aggression in the region,’ in what appeared to be a reference to Pyongyang’s recent missile test.
Abe has invited Trump to inspect the JS Kaga, the country’s second-largest warship. It is currently a helicopter carrier but it is to be equipped with F-35B strike fighters, making it effectively the country’s first aircraft carrier since the end of World War II.
The Kaga’s namesake was sunk in the Battle of Midway in 1942.
Japan is investing heavily in its self-defense forces over fears of Chinese and North Korean incursions.
The country’s constitution forbids it from re-militarizing but allows self-defense forces, and Abe’s administration has stepped up defense spending.
The symbolic nature of a fully-equipped aircraft carrier is seen as a powerful statement by the Japanese government.
Yokosuka is currently home to the U.S. Navy’s Carrier Strike Group Five, whose flagship is the Nimitz-class nuclear-power aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan.
Abe and Trump have only a small window set aside for business during Trump’s five-day trip to Japan. Their likely to play golf on Sunday, the U.S. president’s first full day in Tokyo, and the next night Abe will host the president and first lady at a black-tie dinner.
Trump has held only one state visit in his presidency last April when he hosted French President Emmanuel Macron. He has cut back significantly on the extravagant events compared with his predecessors.
He’s offered other unique experience to world leaders he wants to impress.
U.S. President Donald Trump (C, L) and first lady Melania Trump arrive at U.S. Yokota Air Base in the suburbs of Tokyo on Nov. 5, 2017 on their first visit to Japan
It was also a state visit. They are seen here with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko prior to their meeting at the Imperial Palace on November 6, 2017. Akhito has since abdicated
The Japanese prime minister had a hat made for Trump during the visit that plays on his campaign slogan
Abe allowed Trump to help him feed his fish before a joint news conference at Akaska Palace
Policemen stand guard near the U.S. embassy ahead of the U.S. president’s visit to Tokyo
Abe visited Trump in Washington less than a month ago to attend a birthday celebration for Melania Trump. He golfed with the U.S. president before he returned to Tokyo.
Trump hosted a U.S.-Japan summit for Abe last year at his Palm Beach resort. The leaders also golfed together then.
The senior official who briefed press on the Tokyo trip said the frequency of Trump’s contact with Abe ‘is really emblematic of just how close the relationship is’ between the two leaders.
‘That is absolutely unprecedented in terms of just of the frequency and substance of all of their interactions,’ the official stressed.
By the White House’s count, they have met or spoken more than 40 times since Trump’s election in November of 2016. Abe was the first world leader to meet with Trump after he won the contest, flying to New York to present him with a gold golf driver.
Abe’s grand gesture made an impression on Trump, who mentioned it during his state dinner toast during his last trip to Japan.
‘He actually brought me the most beautiful golf club I’ve ever seen. It was a driver that’s totally gold,’ he said. ‘It is the most beautiful weapon I’ve ever seen.’
Washington College Professor and ‘Japan’s Security Renaissance’ author Andrew Oros credits the gift and the continent-crossing venture with Abe and Trump’s tight-knit relationship.
‘The early outreach from Prime Minster Abe was tremendously successful,’ he said.
Oros said a trade battle with Japan has mostly been ‘put off’ while Trump goes toe-to-toe with China on its practices, in spite of a $67.6 billion deficit.
‘It’s just sort of simmered along,’ Oros said of the imbalance Trump has complained about between Japan and the United States.
Oros said that’s exactly the way the Japanese planned it. ‘Japan would be happy if these trade negotiations just disappeared,’ he told DailyMail.com.
He said of the possibility for trade talks in Tokyo: ‘No one thinks there’s going to be any serious discussions.’
Abe will fill Trump’s time instead with cultural activities such as the sumo tournament, where the leaders will be seated in chairs that are being brought into the Ryogoku Kokugikan just for Trump.
Sumo watchers with floor-level seats near the dirt ring typically enjoy the martial art that only men can compete in on Japanese sitting mattresses. But Trump and Abe will sit in chairs at the event, News Post Seven reported.
The U.S. president is also expected to present the victor of the 15-day competition with a massive cup.
The accommodations are a testament to Abe’s commitment to staying in the good graces of the American president who can rally an army of social media users and move markets with his Twitter account in a moment’s notice.
Abe lured Trump back to Japan with an invitation to meet Emperor Naruhito before any other world leader.
‘And I said, ‘Gee, I don’t know if I can make it. Let me ask you a question: How big is that event compared to the Superbowl for the Japanese?’ ‘ Trump recalled during Abe’s most recent White House visit. ‘And the Prime Minister said, ‘It’s about 100 times bigger.’ I said, ‘I’ll be there. If that’s the case, I’ll be there.”
Naruhito will not be formally enthroned until a ceremony in October, but the offer to meet him a month into his reign was enough to summon Trump.
‘Isn’t it 130 some-odd years that it’s happened? It’s a very unusual — it’s a very unusual thing,’ Trump told Abe in April of Akihito’s abdication. ‘And you’re talking about reigning through blood for over 3,000 years — the longest in the world. So it’s a very, very big event.’
EMPEROR NARUHITO AND THE ROYAL FAMILY
Emperor Naruhito ascended to the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1, 2019 after his father, Akihito, abdicated and entered retirement.
Rulers traditionally hold on to the throne until their death, but Akihito stepped down to make way for the reign of his 59-year-old son.
Naruhito’s reign will be formally known as the ‘Reiwa’ era, and he will be renamed the Reiwa emperor when he passes.
He is Japan’s 126th monarch.
The Japanese emperor was once the head of government and of state affairs. Since the conclusion of World War II, the position is ceremonial.
A prime minister, currently Shinzo Abe, runs the country’s affairs.
Naruhito studied at Oxford and speaks English. He plays both golf and tennis.
He is married to Empress Masako, who briefly lived in New York as a girl and went to high school in a suburb of Boston.
She earned her degree in economics from Radcliffe College, which later merged with Harvard. She went on to study at Oxford, as well.
Naruhito and Masako have one child: Princess Aiko, who is not eligible under Japanese law to ascend the throne.
Another male in the blood line, Hisahito, is next in line to lead the monarchy.
Abe told him it had actually been 200 years since a living Japanese emperor stepped down.
‘Well, that’s really nice. And that’s an honor on behalf of our country, not just the First Lady and myself. So we really do look forward to that,’ Trump replied. ‘And I think, on a little bit lighter note, we will also be going, perhaps, to a sumo wrestling match. I’ve always found that fascinating.’
He said, So, in fact, we’re having a trophy made in this country. We’re going to give the trophy to the winner of the championship. So that should be good.’
Jim Schoff, a senior fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, pointed to the comments and said the visit is a missed opportunity for the American president.
‘I don’t sense that Trump is going into this with a strategy of what he wants to get out of it, he’s kind of just going for the trip. There’s no real political benefit for him.’
Schiff said Abe is ‘desperate to avoid’ an in-depth conversation on trade, and Trump is playing right into it. ‘We could have a lot more substance here, and unfortunately, I don’t expect a lot to come out of it.’
On the call with press before the president’s visit, the U.S. official previewing the trip said characterizations of the trip as lacking in substance were wrong.
‘I don’t want to give the impression that it won’t be substantive. It’s going to cover quite a broad range of topics in the relationship. There will be some substantive things to announce. So there will be ceremony but there will also be substance in this visit,’ the official insisted.
Washington College’s Oros said Trump’s trip on its own provides valuable insight into his relationship with Abe and the closeness of the U.S. and Japan.
‘If Japan were not as important to the U.S. as it is, he would just meet with Abe then,’ Oros told DailyMail.com. ‘In part, that’s because President Trump and his advisers really do understand that the alliance with Japan is a critical linchpin to relations with China.’