Japan, one of the US’s closest allies, allowed itself a cautious sigh of relief after its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, described Donald Trump as someone in whom he had “great confidence” after they met in New York on Thursday.
Abe, the first foreign leader to meet the president-elect, said he had come away from their 90-minute meeting confident that he could trust Trump, despite the property billionaire’s campaign criticism of Japan’s contribution to bilateral security ties.
A Japanese government spokesman said Abe’s relationship with Trump had got off to an “extremely good start”.
Photographs released by the Japanese government showed that the president-elect’s daughter Ivanka, son-in-law Jared Kushner and retired general Michael Flynn, touted as his national security adviser, also attended the meeting. White House press pool reporters and photographers covering the president-elect were not allowed into the meeting or to take photographs. The Guardian and other media are choosing not to use the Japanese government photographs since they were not taken by the independent media outlets that would normally be expected to record such events.
While neither side revealed details of the discussions, Abe told reporters at Trump Tower in Manhattan: “We were able to have a very candid talk over a substantial amount of time, and in a very warm atmosphere.
“I will not go into details or specifics about today’s discussions with president-elect Trump, but I do believe that without confidence between the two nations, our alliance would never function in the future.”
Abe thanked Trump for meeting him while he was shaping his cabinet ahead of his inauguration as US president. “Despite his extremely busy schedule, because of decisions to be made vis-a-vis appointments or other related business, he was kind enough to receive me,” he said. “I renewed my conviction that together with Mr Trump I will be able to establish a relationship of trust.