Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke with praise for US President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday (17 November) following the Republican's first meeting with a world-leader since his US election victory, defusing the billionaire's previously divisive comments toward Japan.
Speaking to reporters after Thursday's meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan, Abe declined to disclose the full details of the unofficial meeting, but spoke of Trump in glowing terms.
"The talks made me feel sure that we can build a relationship of trust," said Abe, referring to previous statements by Trump that may have rattled the Japanese government.
Trump previously spoke of the Trans-Pacific Partnership between the US and Japan in less than complimentary terms at a rally in June, comparing it to rape in his speech. He said he would withdraw the US from that partnership. "It's a rape of our country. It's a harsh word, but that's what it is – rape of our country."
Additionally, Trump previously threatened to withdraw US troops from Japan unless they paid more for their upkeep.
Nonetheless, on Thursday Abe referred to the talks as "warm" and said: "Alliances cannot function without trust, I am now confident that President-elect Trump is a trustworthy leader."
Abe spoke of the "tremendous honour" of being the first world leader to meet with Trump and said they would meet again "at a convenient time to cover a wider area in greater depth". Japan's finance minister also spoke positively of the meeting on Thursday and said the vital importance of the relationship to both countries made an early meeting all the more necessary.
Trump has previously held unofficial meetings with less senior figures, such as British MEP Nigel Farage, who reports suggest could be deployed by the UK Government, despite holding no position within it, as a conduit with Trump's inner circle.
When grilled about Farage's role at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Theresa May was tight-lipped and failed to rule out a peerage that would allow Farage to hold a position in Government.