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Trump’s Twin Blows to Japan Test Limit of Abe’s Charm Offensive

  • Abe reels as U.S. leader upends North Korea, trade policies
  • Prime minister plans Washington trip to firm up U.S. alliance
Shinzo Abe, right, gestures as he greets Donald Trump at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan, on Nov. 5, 2017. 

Shinzo Abe, right, gestures as he greets Donald Trump at Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan, on Nov. 5, 2017. 

Photographer: Franck Robichon/Pool via Bloomberg

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After 16 months of warm words, lavish gifts and rounds of golf, Japan’s Shinzo Abe may be discovering the limits of personal rapport with Donald Trump.

The prime minister is planning a hastily arranged trip to Washington next month after two surprise announcements by the U.S. president: That he’d meet their mutual adversary Kim Jong Un, and levy tariffs on Japanese steel and aluminum. The moves could shake the pillars of trade and security that underpin a 70-year-old alliance Abe was counting on to buttress against a rising China.