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Is Trump’s state visit only ceremonial?

18 3 0

By the time my dear readers see this column, U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania will have enjoyed the first formal state banquet hosted by Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, and Trump on Tuesday will be visiting Yokosuka, where the U.S. 7th Fleet and Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force fleet are based.

When I wrote this piece Sunday night, the U.S. mainstream media had started reporting that Trump’s visit to Tokyo was “mainly ceremonial” while the political environment surrounding him was getting nastier. For example, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, said last Wednesday in Washington that “the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.”

Ordinary Japanese in Tokyo, who may have no idea who Pelosi is and what the word “cover-up” implies in American politics, seem to have welcomed the U.S. president and first lady. On Sunday, I watched the Summer Grand Sumo Tournament, where Trump presented the President’s Cup to the young Japanese winner of the tournament.

Some of my American friends who know sumo well had been half-jokingly concerned that the Japanese spectators might throw their seat cushions at Trump as he presented the huge trophy. They know that Japanese sumo fans often do so against a grand champion who loses a match to a lower-rank wrestler.

“Don’t you worry,” I said to one of them, “the Japanese are politer. Mr. Trump is not in Europe or the Middle East.”

Having said that, I was not 100 percent sure. Fortunately,........

© The Japan Times