Shinzo Abe is set to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister following his re-election as Liberal Democratic Party chief earlier this month, but he’s entering his third term with a fresh headache gifted from Washington. For the past two years, Tokyo has refused to enter formal bilateral trade negotiations with the United States. On Wednesday, Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump announced an agreement to do just that. The apparent about-face follows a month of threats from Trump that Japan was next on his trade hit list, warning that his warm relationship with Tokyo would end “as soon as I tell them how much they have to pay.” It also comes as Japan remains stuck on the sidelines in the North Korea nuclear negotiations, with Tokyo increasingly concerned that the U.S. will strike a deal that keeps the U.S. mainland safe from North Korean attack while hanging Japan out to dry. With friends like these, who needs the Kim family?
But Tokyo’s conciliatory turn is not motiva