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The Australian National University

Can Japan’s golden golf diplomacy win over Donald Trump?

Dr H. D. P. (David) Envall in The Trump Administration's First 100 Days: What Should Asia Do?

When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited then US President-elect Donald Trump in November 2016, he presented Trump with a Honmas Beres S-05 golf driver embellished with gold and intended, apparently, ‘for players seeking a higher trajectory and slice correction.’ The clubs were well received (even if, as it turned out, they were made in China). So when the two leaders met again in February 2017, they played golf together and spent five hours discussing United States-Japan relations.

Abe has therefore received strong marks for his Trump diplomacy, with subsequent opinion polling suggesting that 70 per cent of Japanese were satisfied with the results of the Trump-Abe meeting. For Abe, such statecraft recreates the successful golf diplomacy pursued by his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, as Japanese Prime Minister. Kishi golfed with US President Dwight D. Eisenhower during alliance negotiations in the 1950s. So does Abe’s golden golf gift represent a new diplomatic triumph for Japan? In answering this, it is important to ask two further questions. How do Trump’s foreign policies affect Japan’s interests? And what can Abe do through diplomacy to address these effects?

Click here to view Dr Envall's full essay. 

Updated:  21 February, 2013/Responsible Officer:  JI Management Group/Page Contact:  Japan Institute