Japan scrambles to build ties with Trump from scratch

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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking to reporters Wednesday.

 

TOKYO — In the wake of the stunning U.S. election results, the Japanese government is moving to establish diplomatic relations with incoming President Donald Trump, a complete political outsider with virtually no connections to the Tokyo government establishment.

The process will “start from zero,” according to a senior official at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to get the ball rolling when Katsuyuki Kawai, his special adviser, visits the U.S. for five days beginning Monday.

The television in Abe’s office, usually turned off, continued to show election coverage on Wednesday. “This is a closer than expected,” Abe muttered to Kawai and others during a meeting at around 11 a.m. The Japanese leader remained stuck to the news even as he rode in his car at around noon.

The office of the prime minister’s secretaries bustled with activity during the afternoon hours when Trump took the lead. Staff members compiled information about the Republican candidate, including his policies, being sent from the Japanese Embassy in Washington. They also fielded calls Wednesday from the likes of the finance ministry, which was dealing with jumpy exchange rates.

Realizing that a Trump victory was inevitable, Abe called Kawai into his office just before 3 p.m. “I need you to meet with everyone connected with Mr. Trump,” Abe told him. “And I mean everyone.”

Like most other central government officials, Abe had been preparing for a Hillary Clinton victory. When the prime minister visited the U.S. in September, he met with the former secretary of state. He did not arrange a meeting with Trump.

Full article: Japan scrambles to build ties with Trump from scratch (Nikkei Asian Review)

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