Tuesday, March 22, 2016

How Obama Views Asia-Pacific Leaders

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meanwhile, comes in a few places below Lee in Goldberg's ranking. Despite the considerable work that has gone into redefining the U.S.-Japan alliance since Abe became prime minister in December 2012, Obama and Abe don't have the best personal rapport. Goldberg shares a somewhat disappointing encounter for Abe with the U.S. president:

On a recent visit by Obama to Japan, Abe staged a dinner at a famous sushi restaurant, hoping that the informal atmosphere, and renowned sushi, would allow the two men to bond. But Obama, sources say, declined to make small talk, instead limiting the discussion to defense and trade issues. Abe was said to be wounded by Obama's standoffishness.

One wonders if Obama's hesitation to warm up to Abe might have something to do with the Japanese prime minister's clumsy regional messaging on history, which left South Korea, in particular, hesitant to collaborate with Japan on regional security for some time. In fact, the first time Abe met South Korean Prime Minister Park Geun-hye was under Obama's watchful eye at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit.

No comments: