U.S. President Donald Trump put a period on the looming end of his bromance with outgoing leader Shinzo Abe on Monday, lauding him as “the greatest Prime Minister in the history of Japan.”
Trump made the comments in a tweet praising Abe after the two spoke over the telephone in what was likely to be their final call as leaders of the two allies after Japan’s longest-serving prime minister announced last Friday that he would be resigning due to a chronic illness.
In their Monday morning phone call — the pair’s 37th — Abe said Japan would continue working to develop new national security policies, with the missile threat from North Korea, and implicitly China, in mind, while further deepening cooperation with the United States, according to a Japanese government official who was listening in.
Abe said during the news conference on Friday that his administration had convened a National Security Council meeting for Wednesday to discuss specific new defense policies. Those include a proposal from a group of ruling party lawmakers urging the NSC to consider acquiring the capability to defeat missiles even when in enemy territory. The government is due to reveal a new policy on missile defense in September.
During the call, the prime minister also explained the reasons behind his decision to resign and thanked Trump for solidifying the Japan-U.S. alliance to an “unprecedented” level as well as his assistance on the abduction issue. The issue of recovering Japanese kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 80s was one of his highest priorities as prime minister.