The visit presents chance for the two leaders to discuss Trump's upcoming summit with North Korea, which Japan eyes warily. They are also likely to discuss Trump’s failure to exempt Japan from new steel and aluminum tariffs.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets US President Donald Trump in White House.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets US President Donald Trump in White House. ( AFP Archive )

US President Donald Trump is hosting Japan's Shinzo Abe at his Mar-a-Lago resort on Tuesday, with both men under pressure to deliver something more than bonhomie and birdies.

The Japanese prime minister will make his second visit to Trump's ostentatious Palm Beach, Florida estate, when the focus will be on trade and security.

Last year, Trump and Abe traded fist bumps and high fives as they snuck in a round of golf in Palm Beach and a return leg near Tokyo, tucking into burgers with ketchup for good measure.

TRT World's Steve Mort reports.

"Obviously, the president has got a great relationship there," said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. 

But with Abe's approval rating languishing at its lowest level in years and Trump mired in controversies and crises too numerous to list, both are under pressure.

Trump's possible summit with Kim

Trump's decision to hold an improbable summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un this May or June was announced without consulting Abe. And worse, it was announced by a South Korean official.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie wave as they prepare to depart from Tokyo's Haneda airport on April 17, 2018.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his wife Akie wave as they prepare to depart from Tokyo's Haneda airport on April 17, 2018. ( AFP )

Since then Tokyo officials have watched in horror as China and South Korea – an ally, but an uneasy one – take on a more direct hand in influencing the outcome of a nuclear crisis that places Japan's very existence in question.

Pyongyang has lobbed test-missiles over the sea of Japan, triggering public warning alerts. 

The abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea remains a high-profile domestic issue.

'Maximum pressure' policy

As he left Japan, Abe told reporters that he would be reiterating Tokyo's "maximum pressure" policy towards Pyongyang, and that the "important abduction issue" would be high on his agenda.

"I will use all my strength so we see progress towards resolution of the abduction issue," he said.

Trump could do with a political victory – perhaps in the form of opening up trade negotiations with Japan as he seeks to calm an increasingly restless and crisis-weary base.

Source: AFP