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Don’t Feed the Donald

For Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, appeasing US President Donald Trump is not so much a choice as a necessity: he must prove to Japan’s people and their neighbors, particularly the Chinese, that he knows how to keep Trump on his side. But Abe's strategy won't work with a US administration as fickle and self-serving as Trump’s.

TOKYO – What do French President Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have in common? For one thing, they both believe that, by stroking US President Donald Trump’s fragile ego, they can coax him into maintaining the traditional alliances that he has proved all too willing to abandon. But, while America’s narcissist-in-chief is undoubtedly susceptible to flattery, there are limits to this approach.

Macron is already learning this. The “friendship tree” that he gave to Trump last year – which the leaders and their wives planted in the White House lawn – is now dead. It is an apt metaphor.

But Abe’s charm offensive is still in full swing. The first world leader to meet with Trump after his election victory in 2016, Abe returned to Washington, DC, in April. The next month, Trump was in Japan, where Abe pulled out all the stops.

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