On Thursday, President-Elect Donald Trump will reportedly meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in New York City. Although Trump has said that various world leaders called to introduce themselves in the wake of his election last week, Thursday's meeting with the Japanese delegation will be Trump's first face-to-face meeting with a foreign leader since becoming president-elect. According to multiple reports, the purpose of the meeting will be to reassure the Japanese leader not to worry about Trump's often-harsh campaign rhetoric.
During Trump's campaign, some of that rhetoric could have understandably concerned the Japanese administration. For instance, in August, Trump reportedly claimed that if the U.S. were attacked, Japan would "sit home and watch Sony television."
If we're attacked, Japan doesn't have to do anything. They can sit home and watch Sony television, OK?
Despite such rhetoric, Abe was reportedly eager to meet with the newly minted president-elect. It seemed clear that Trump's rhetoric would come up, but perhaps more importantly, the meeting served as a first glimpse into Trump's foreign policy. Since he won last week's general election over Hillary Clinton, Trump has proved unpredictable, weakening or going back on many of the things he wildly said during his campaign. For instance, although Trump had long vowed to "repeal and replace" President Obama's Affordable Care Act, he has since indicated that he may work to maintain some of its principles. In other words, Thursday's meeting with Abe wouldn't be the first time that Trump abandoned his bold campaign rhetoric for a more palatable approach.
It doesn't seem often that a foreign leader comes to the U.S. not to meet with the president. But in the case of President-Elect Trump, there is a precedent. In 2008, then-President-Elect Obama reportedly met with nine world leaders, as well as a top intelligence officer for President George W. Bush, in the week following his election.
In fact, Obama didn't even wait until his election to show off his foreign policy credentials. Although just a senator at the time, Obama traveled to several other countries during his campaign, likely in an attempt to beef up in that area. According to CNN, Obama's campaign trip included visits to France, Germany, Iraq, Israel, and Jordan. While there, Obama planned to meet prime ministers, party leaders, and the like.
Much of Trump's newfound presidency-to-be has become a game of "will-he-won't-he." Now, the first glimpse of Trump's foreign policy in practice could come on Thursday as he meets with Abe. First, though, somebody should tell Abe and his people where to meet the Trump camp.