The Atlantic

What Does Being Trump's Friend Get You?

Shinzo Abe has placed a big bet on courting the U.S. president. He’s about to see whether it will pay off.
Source: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

The question looming over Shinzo Abe’s visit to Mar-a-Lago this week is of profound interest to all allies of the transactional, mercurial, America-First occupant of the White House: Does cultivating a special relationship with Donald Trump get you anything special?

Nearly from the moment Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, when Abe caught a and became the first foreign leader to meet with the president-elect, the Japanese prime minister placed a big bet: Befriending Donald would serve his nation’s interests better than antagonizing him, despite the fact that his new American counterpart had been describing Japan, ally since the 1980s. Abe’s buddy maneuver has come in various forms: ; ; . Most substantively it has manifested itself in Abe’s for the Trump administration’s international campaign of economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation to pressure North Korea into abandoning its nuclear-weapons program. The historical record indicates that dialogue is merely the Kim government’s “best means of deceiving us and buying time,” Abe, who was prime minister when North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon in 2006, last September.

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