All national papers reported that President Trump embraced Prime Minister Abe’s plan to visit Iran in mid-June, highlighting his remarks ahead of the opening of the bilateral summit: “I know that the prime minister and Japan have a very good relationship with Iran, so we’ll see what happens. The prime minister has already spoken to me about that. And I do believe that Iran would like to talk.” Asahi claimed that President Trump urged the premier to visit Japan when they held talks in Washington in late April, conjecturing that the U.S. leader may be counting on Abe to open a channel of communication with Tehran so that he can play up that his administration achieved reconciliation with another U.S. adversary in addition to North Korea.
Yomiuri wrote that GOJ officials, who have been involved in coordination between Tokyo and Tehran for the prime minister’s Iran trip, breathed a sigh of relief following the remarks, since they were not so sure whether the President would endorse Abe’s desire to play the role of mediator. The premier is reportedly keenly interested in serving as an intermediary based on the assessment that his mediation efforts could command strong attention amid the rising global concern about tensions there and ahead of the G20 summit in late June. The papers added, however, that Tokyo and Washington are still at odds over the Iran nuclear agreement.