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Abe, Trump enjoy golf diplomacy, though some politicians question Abe's approach

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and U.S. President Donald Trump hold up signed caps bearing the message, "Donald and Shinzo make alliance even greater," at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, on Nov. 5, 2017. (Pool photo)

KAWAGOE, Saitama -- Prime Minister Shinzo Abe played nine holes of golf with U.S. President Donald Trump alongside professional golfer Hideki Matsuyama at the Kasumigaseki Country Club here on Nov. 5, using "golf diplomacy" to underscore his close personal relationship with the president.

    Abe greeted Trump at the entrance of the clubhouse where they shook hands. Trump commented on the good weather and a smiling Abe responded that the weather was perfect.

    Both leaders were accompanied only by an interpreter, and they had a light lunch of hamburgers made with U.S. beef. Abe presented Trump with caps embroidered with the words "DONALD & SHINZO MAKE ALLIANCE EVEN GREATER," and they signed the peak of each cap.

    During his visit to the United States in February, Abe spent roughly five hours playing 27 holes of golf with Trump. After about six months of not playing, Abe returned to golf on Nov. 3 to test his skills before his game with Trump, unveiling closer relations to Trump compared to his ties with other leaders.

    After his game with Trump, Abe returned home, and then traveled by car with his wife Akie Abe to where Trump was staying. They then got in a car used exclusively by the president, and headed to a Teppanyaki restaurant in Tokyo's Ginza district. During an informal dinner they had Tajima-ushi beef steaks, and sauteed Japanese spiny lobster.

    Questions have arisen from some politicians in Japan about the prime minister's lavish hospitality toward Trump. On Nov. 5, Liberal Democratic Party heavyweight Shigeru Ishiba told reporters "We should be aware that this is an administration that has not necessarily obtained the trust of all spheres of the U.S. public. Former Senior Vice-Minister of Defense Shu Watanabe, a member of the newly formed Party of Hope, meanwhile, commented on a Fuji TV program on Nov. 5, "Everyone is seeking space from the Trump administration. There is a need to consider how Japan will be seen by devoting itself so much (to close relations with the administration).

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