President Donald Trump touched down in Japan on Saturday for a 13-day tour through five countries in Asia — Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines — and he’s already raising eyebrows.
Trump first met with American service members stationed at the Yokota Air Base outside Tokyo before visiting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a round of golf alongside Hideki Matsuyama, the fourth-ranked golfer in the world.
The two leaders then indulged in a steak dinner, with Abe even surprising Trump with trucker hats Trump embroidered in gold with a slogan borrowed from the president’s campaign motto, “Make America Great Again.”
“Donald & Shinzo, Make Alliance Even Greater,” the new hats read, with both leaders signing the white caps for posterity.
So, the first things Trump is doing in Japan are signing ridiculous hats and playing golf-have I got that right?
— Nanette (@nlenfest) November 5, 2017
This is the dumbest time to be alive pic.twitter.com/1Ib4wggWvt
— Jess Dweck (@TheDweck) November 5, 2017
— 安倍晋三 (@AbeShinzo) November 5, 2017
Playing golf with Prime Minister Abe and Hideki Matsuyama, two wonderful people! pic.twitter.com/vYLULe0o2K
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 5, 2017
On Sunday evening, a state dinner was held at the Akasaka Palace. Among the guests was Pikotaro, the famed creative force behind the “Pen Pineapple Apple Pen” song. (Last November, Ivanka Trump posted a video to Instagram of her then-5-year-old daughter Arabella singing her own version of the song. The video was retweeted by Justin Bieber, helping launch the song into the category of viral sensation. A month later, when Abe met with Trump and Ivanka in New York, he told the president that he had seen Arabella’s interpretation.)
Pikotaro, donned in leopard-print robes and sporting his signature thin mustache, socialized with other attendees and confirmed that he had not yet met Ivanka.
During toasts, Abe heralded the success of “golf diplomacy” with Trump, while the president shared a story about how their relationship got off to a “rocky start.”
“So my relationship with Shinzo got off to quite a rocky start because I never ran for office, and here I am. But I never ran, so I wasn’t very experienced,” Trump said. “And after I had won, everybody was calling me from all over the world. I never knew we had so many countries.”
The remark drew instant backlash on Twitter.
When Obama said he visited 57 states it was a huge gaffe. Trump not knowing there are so many countries is only like his 784th biggest one.
— Not Paul (@Stillnotpaul) November 6, 2017
Who ever knew? Trump first in the world to discover that we “have” so many countries. https://t.co/44hYtdDLnL
— Chris Jazwinski (@Tuberoose) November 6, 2017
Trump reportedly the Japanese prime minister that he never knew that there were so many countries. REALLY???!!!!!
— Ben From Delaware (@loveisequal80) November 6, 2017
Trump also met with Japanese business leaders during the trip, and caused confusion when he said, “We love it when you build cars – if you’re a Japanese firm, we love it – try building your cars in the United States instead of shipping them over.” (Although the Twitterverse initially slammed Trump for the comment, a full version of the transcript showed that he indeed did acknowledge that many Japanese cars are made in U.S. plants.)
Donald Trump’s full quote to Japanese automakers pic.twitter.com/tw7IaO0A3c
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) November 6, 2017
Again, this is what we’ve seen over and over for 2.5 years. He can say contradictory things in same sentence https://t.co/Jy71cJlBV3
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) November 6, 2017
— U.S. Secret Service (@SecretService) November 4, 2017
As is tradition with foreign dignitaries, Trump also stopped with Abe to feed the koi fish at a pond on the grounds of the Akasaka Palace.
The president drew criticism for pouring his box of food into the pond. However, he only did so after Abe emptied his own box.
Not to spoil everyone’s fun but Trump followed Abe’s lead in pouring his fish food into the pond. pic.twitter.com/znqh0c5uF7
— Siraj Datoo (@dats) November 6, 2017
— Darth Boobies (@BoomBlahBlah) November 6, 2017
Abe: These are for feeding koi. Just drop a few in and…
— Holly O’Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) November 6, 2017
You vs. the man she tells you not to worry about pic.twitter.com/AgBHLRugbG
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) November 6, 2017
Trump’s next stop will be South Korea for meetings with President Moon Jae-in and a visit with American troops based there. During a speech before the National Assembly, Trump will call for the international community to maximize pressure on North Korea as it continues to develop its nuclear program.
On Wednesday, the president will land in Beijing for a “series of bilateral, commercial, and cultural events, including meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping,” the White House said.
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Trump will then participate in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic Leaders’ Meeting and speak at the group’s summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Friday before meeting with Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang and other officials in Hanoi.
His foreign trip will conclude with two days in Manila, Philippines, where Trump will attend a dinner for the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and then celebrate the 40th anniversary of the U.S.-ASEAN. His final day in the Philippines will include meetings with President Rodrigo Duterte.