Trump arrives in Japan on official visit with North Korea, Iran on the agenda


US President Donald J. Trump (L) waves as he arrives at Haneda International Airport in Tokyo, Japan, May 25, 2019. EPA-EFE/JIJI PRESS

TOKYO.- The president of the United States, Donald Trump, arrived in Tokyo Saturday for a four-day official visit to Japan, which is set to include political discussions with Japanese authorities and an audience with the newly crowned Japanese Emperor Naruhito.

Trump’s plane landed at the Haneda international airport at 4.58 pm and he was received by Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono – with whom he had brief chat – along with other dignitaries.

After protocol greetings and waving at the cameras, the US president climbed into a car to leave the airport along with First Lady Melania Trump.

Trump’s agenda on Saturday includes a meeting with businesspersons at the US Embassy in Tokyo, and on Sunday he will hold his first meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and also play a round of golf with the Japanese leader.

Trump’s audience with Emperor Naruhito and the high-level political meetings are scheduled for Monday.

The US president is the first head of state to be received by Naruhito, who ascended to the throne on May 1 after the abdication of his father Akihito.

In their meetings, Trump and Abe are expected to discuss a number of regional and global issues, including the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the recent tensions between the US and Iran.

Japan, one of the countries most exposed to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests since 2006 as its neighbor, has been supporting Trump’s efforts to convince North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to abandon his weapons program.

However, Trump’s visit comes at a delicate time after the latest summit between him and Kim failed to achieve a deal in February and North Korea resumed missile tests in the first week of May.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton, who had arrived earlier to prepare from Trump’s visit, acknowledged on Saturday that North Korea’s latest missile tests were in violation of United Nations sanctions on the regime.

The US president is expected to raise the topic of Abe’s proposal to meet Kim unconditionally, which he made earlier this month without receiving a clear response from Pyongyang.

Bolton had welcomed Abe’s initiative, saying it would contribute to the final objective of denuclearizing the Korean peninsula.

The other important issue on the table is the rising tensions between Washington and Tehran, where Tokyo is expected to make efforts to reduce tensions between the two governments, who have been exchanging hostile comments recently.

Public broadcaster NHK and other Japanese media on Saturday carried reports that Abe was planning to visit Tehran in the middle of June, in what would be the first visit by a Japanese leader to the country since 1978.

The visit could have been planned during the recent Tokyo visit of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who arrived in Japan in mid-May just after Iran announced that it was partially withdrawing from the nuclear deal signed in 2015.

Japanese media outlets have speculated that Abe could discuss the possibility of his Iran visit with Trump before reaching a final decision in this regard.

After their golf session, Trump and Abe are set to attend the final of a sumo-wrestling competition, where the US president is to award the trophy to the winner.

Organizing the sumo competition and other activities has presented a special challenge for local authorities due to the heavy security measures necessitated by Trump’s presence.

The arrangements include metal detectors installed at the entrance of the Ryogoku Kokugikan arena, and spectators will need to submit their personal details at the gate before heading to the seating area, which consists of cushions placed on the ground.

This arrangement comes in handy when, as per tradition, spectators throw the cushions towards the wrestling area, called «dohyo,» in the event of an upset or exciting occurrence.

Trump, however, will not be participating in this ritual as chairs have been placed for him and Abe in the stands.

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