Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been holding meetings with foreign dignitaries one after another. During the three days from May 29 to 31, he will meet with the leaders of seven Asian countries who are now visiting Japan. The succession of meetings seems to be driven by his prominent presence in diplomacy that is partly attributable to his amicable relationship with U.S. President Donald Trump.
On May 30, Abe met with Laotian Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith at the Prime Minister’s Office, during which the two leaders agreed to cooperate on infrastructure development. Abe also met with Singaporean and Vietnamese cabinet ministers on the same day.
The prime minister is scheduled to meet with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 31 and convey his intention to provide grant aid worth 200 million yen for developing a special economic zone adjacent to Sihanoukville Port in southern Cambodia. Sihanoukville is the only port in Cambodia where large freighters can berth. Japan considers the port to be a hub for its “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” strategy.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Japan in February. The heads of state of Austria, Qatar, Panama, and Palau have also traveled to Japan this year. The leaders of major European countries are having trouble building relationships with President Trump, so their motivation for visiting Japan might be to gauge the President’s real intentions through Abe since he has close ties with him and they have played golf together as many as five times.
Japan will hold a number of international conferences this year, including the Group of 20 summit in Osaka in June and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Yokohama in August. In addition, many world leaders will visit Japan in October to coincide with the Ceremony of the Enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor at the Seiden (State Hall) and other events.