Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe first bonded over a gifted golden golf club in honor of Trump’s election. Then, Trump invited the Japanese prime minister to play a round at his exclusive private course in Mar-a-Lago, Florida.
Now, Abe is returning the favor on the president’s first official visit to Japan — and making a round of golf the first official activity of Trump’s 13-day Asia tour.
The White House says Trump and Abe will play Sunday at the Kasumigaseki Country Club, the planned site of the 2020 Olympics golf tournament.
The club says its guiding principle is “good fellowship, as expressed in the spirit of fair play, familiarity and trust in the members.”
Building trust and personal rapport between the two leaders is one of the key objectives of the visit, administration and Japanese officials have said. The men also planned a private lunch at the club.
Trump, 71, and Abe, 63, will be joined by 25-year-old Japanese professional golfer Hideki Matsuyama, according to the White House.
“I wasn’t sure if I’d be good enough. But I hope to have fun so that it will be engraved in my memory,” Matsuyama, who is 4th in the PGA world rankings, said Friday at a tournament in Shanghai, according to the Japan Times. “I’ll do my best not to lose [to Trump].”
When Trump hosted Abe in Florida in February 2016, he invited South African pro golfer Ernie Els to join the round.
The Kasumigaseki course, founded in 1929, is widely considered the birthplace of Japan’s popular golf craze but has recently been at the center of controversy. Facing public criticism over the club’s policies toward women, 2020 Olympics organizers threatened to move to a different venue unless the rules were change.
The club ultimately ceded to pressure in March and now allows women to be full members.