Donald Trump arrives in Japan for state visit, golf and sumo

US President Donald Trump has arrived in Japan for a state visit that will make him the first world leader to meet the country’s new emperor.

Mr Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrived aboard Air Force One after a 14-hour journey.

The president was heading to a dinner with business leaders at the US Ambassador’s residence in Tokyo after a brief airport welcome.

A relatively strong earthquake rattled Tokyo just before the president’s arrival, but there was no danger of a tsunami.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said the quake, registering magnitude 5.1, struck in Chiba, just south of Tokyo, about 24 miles underground, about two hours before Mr Trump arrived.

The visit is part of a continuing charm offensive by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that analysts say has spared Japan from far more debilitating retaliatory action from Mr Trump.

The president has refused to lift the threat of slapping potentially devastating US tariffs on imports of Japanese cars and car parts on national security grounds.

US tariffs against Japanese aluminium and steel remain.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono greets the president (Koji Sasahara/AP)
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono greets the president (Koji Sasahara/AP)

Mr Trump has the honour of being the first head of state invited to meet Emperor Naruhito since he assumed power on May 1 after his father stepped down, the first abdication in about two centuries.

Naruhito will welcome Mr Trump to the Imperial Palace on Monday for a meeting and banquet in his honour.

“With all the countries of the world, I’m the guest of honour at the biggest event that they’ve had in over 200 years,” Mr Trump said on Thursday.

Mr Abe will host Mr Trump on Sunday for a round of golf and take the president to a sumo wrestling match, a sport Mr Trump said he finds “fascinating”. Mr Trump is eager to present the winner with a US-made trophy.

Behind the smiles and personal friendship, however, lurks deep uneasiness over Mr Trump’s threat to impose tariffs.

Mr Trump recently agreed to a six-month delay, enough time to carry Mr Abe past July’s Japanese parliamentary elections.

“On the surface, it’s all going to be a display of warmth, friendship, hospitality,” said Mireya Solis, a senior fellow at the Brookings Centre for East Asia Policy Studies.

But, she said, “there’s an undercurrent of awkwardness and concern about what the future might hold… We’re coming to a decisive moment. This is, I think, the moment of truth.”

- Press Association

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