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Golf diplomacy called into question

NHK commentator Masuda reported on President Trump’s plan to play golf with Prime Minister Abe at the Kasumigaseki Country Club on Nov. 5, saying that this is the first time for an incumbent U.S. president to play golf in Japan. He said that while Abe is hoping to hold candid talks with the President and cement their friendship through their common hobby, the planned event has raised eyebrows in political circles on account of the situation in North Korea. Masuda explained that since Abe dissolved the Lower House in order to seek a breakthrough in the North Korean crisis, skeptics are questioning his decision to play golf with the President at this juncture. Some are also concerned about what might happen if North Korea fires a missile while they are playing golf. Masuda said Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga stressed the importance of the two leaders deepening their ties while exercising strict crisis control. The commentator expressed hope that the golf event will not just be an occasion for the two leaders to deepen their friendship, saying that the premier should seek to establish a relationship with the President in which he can clearly say “no” in regard to such issues as North Korea and a bilateral FTA if necessary.

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