At a press conference on Feb. 7, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga emphasized the legitimacy of “golf diplomacy,” saying, “It is very important to build personal ties of trust.” These comments were made in relation to the golf outing between Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump, which is scheduled to take place during the Japanese leader’s trip to the United States.
In a radio program on Feb. 5, U.S. President Donald Trump said, “You get to know someone better by playing a round of golf than by having lunch together.” “The Japanese prime minister wants to play golf, and we plan to play a round in Palm Beach, Florida.” In this regard, Suga said, “The prime minister received an invitation from President Trump.” In the case of the February 2013 Japan-U.S. summit, which was the first held after the launch of the second [Abe] cabinet, (initially the meeting was scheduled to be) “just 45 minutes. It took considerable work to add 15 minutes,” Suga continued, showing a favorable view of the warm reception [from the United States] this time.
When UK Prime Minister Teresa May showed good rapport with President Trump, however, there was an angry response in Europe, which faces an immigrant and migrant crisis. In response to questions from the Mainichi Shimbun, Democratic Party Policy Research Committee Chairman Hiroshi Ogushi said, “What kind of message does this golf outing send to the world? I am a bit concerned about this.” At a press conference on Feb. 7, Seiji Mataichi, Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party, also criticized the stance of placing priority on relationship building, saying, “It is an inappropriate stance compared with European leaders who have strongly criticized President Trump.”