Today #president Trump welcomed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō #abe to the “very famous White House,” a bit strange considering how Japanese feel about bragging and also because Abe had visited the White House before. Trump also held a handshake for a very uncomfortable amount of time and appeared to stare down the Japanese PM because he misunderstood what the translator told him.

Diplomatic gaff

During the abbreviated press conference with the Prime Minister, only his second with a head of state from a major ally (first was PM May), President Trump seemingly pretended to understand Japanese because he followed along with aids and laughed when the PM told a few jokes in Japanese.

Advertisements
Advertisements

Only part way through the press conference did President Trump, and some of his top aides seem to remember that they were wearing radios with earpieces carrying a running translation of PM Abe’s remarks.

Then President Trump called on reporters from two of Rupert Murdoch's news services, ignoring for yet another time any other reporters who might have asked uncomfortable questions such as why did White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn apparently lie about contacts with the Russian Ambassador before The inauguration. As he reportedly did according to at least nine people.

But the next blunder came when President Trump tried to end the press conference before the second Japanese journalist had a chance to ask a question - the traditional diplomatic situation where two American journalists get to ask questions, and two reporters from the visiting dignitary's country also get to ask questions.

Advertisements

Where was Melania?

In what is probably a major error especially when dealing with the very correct Japanese, the Prime Minister’s wife, Akie Abe, toured various sites in Washington, including attending a meeting of the Cherry Tree foundation at the Japanese Embassy, which is typical for a State visit.

What wasn’t usual or diplomatic was that Akie Abe had to go without a personal escort from the White House. Traditionally the First Lady accompanies visiting dignitaries’ wives on these diplomatic events. It isn't even common courtesy to ignore a visitor's wife.

As we know the First Lady Melania Trump is staying with her son in New York, but First Daughter Ivanka Trump, who seems to be standing in for the First Lady, was in attendance at the press conference but didn’t play hostess to the PM’s wife, neither did VP Pence’s wife Karen.

Whether or not the Japanese will consider this a major insult or not, it is certainly not in line with diplomatic tradition and on earlier visits Akie Abe has been shown around by Mrs Obama and earlier by Mrs Bush. #diplomacy