Japan’s Shinzo Abe met with US Presidents Bush, Obama, Trump in years as prime minister

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The late Shinzo Abe’s political career as Japan’s prime minister spanned three U.S. presidencies, with George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump working with him as a key ally in tackling global security issues, particularly efforts to denuclearize North Korea. 

Abe, who was assassinated on a street in Nara in western Japan Friday morning, visited the past three presidents in places including Camp David, Mar-a-Lago and Pearl Harbor during his time as prime minister between 2006 and 2007, and again from 2012 until his resignation in 2020. 

“We did take a lot of time to discuss North Korean nuclear issues,” Abe told reporters after meeting with President Bush at Camp David in April 2007. “We agreed to work together to realize a more peaceful and stable Korean Peninsula by making North Korea completely give up its nuclear weapons.” 

During Obama’s presidency, Abe continued to meet one-on-one with his American counterpart to discuss security issues in the Asia-Pacific region, where China has become an increasing threat with its territorial claims in the South China Sea. 

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FILE - President George W. Bush shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a press conference on April 27, 2007, at Camp David, Maryland.

FILE – President George W. Bush shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a press conference on April 27, 2007, at Camp David, Maryland.
(Charles Ommanney/Getty Images)

Then at the end of Obama’s second term, Abe appeared alongside him at Pearl Harbor, where the two world leaders laid wreaths and tossed flower petals into the water. 

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“As the prime minister of Japan, I offer my sincere and everlasting condolences to the souls of those who lost their lives here, as well as to the spirits of all the brave men and women whose lives were taken by a war that commenced in this very place,” Abe said during the December 2016 visit. 

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam's Kilo Pier on December 27, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Abe is the first Japanese prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor with a U.S. president and the first to visit the USS Arizona Memorial.

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe listens at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam’s Kilo Pier on December 27, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Abe is the first Japanese prime minister to visit Pearl Harbor with a U.S. president and the first to visit the USS Arizona Memorial.
(Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

After Trump entered the White House, Abe huddled with Trump twice at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in South Florida. 

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In the first visit in February 2017, Abe called a North Korea ballistic missile launch “absolutely intolerable.” 

U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks while dining at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on April 18, 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump looks on as Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks while dining at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, on April 18, 2018.
(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

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The following year, Abe once again met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago and discussed topics including strategy on dealing with North Korea. 

“South Korea is meeting and has plans to meet with North Korea to see if they can end the war,” Trump said alongside Abe at the time. “They have my blessing on that.” 

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