On March 25, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had a trilateral summit with US President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye in The Hague. It did not lead to a breakthrough in the tension between Abe and Park. Nonetheless, this trilateral summit was considered a small yet critical step for the three countries to once again begin policy coordination to address security concerns in Northeast Asia, particularly North Korea.
Abe will have another chance to meet Obama in a month, when Obama visits Tokyo in late April. Abe should utilize these summit meetings to jump-start the process of reestablishing a sense of confidence with Obama, resetting the tone of US-Japan relations.
Since Abe and Obama held their last bilateral meeting in St. Petersburg in September 2013, the atmosphere surrounding US-Japan relations have greatly changed. There seems to be an increasing disconnect between Tokyo and Washington, particularly since Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine on Dec. 26 last year.
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