Earthquake shakes Tokyo shortly before Trump arrives

Earthquake shakes Tokyo shortly before Trump arrives

May 25, 2019– Mary Greeley News – An earthquake shook parts of the region around Tokyo on Saturday, just ahead of US President Donald Trump’s arrival to Japan.

A magnitude 5.1 earthquake struck Chiba Prefecture at 3:20 p.m. Saturday, the Meteorological Agency said. No tsunami warning was issued.

The quake, which registered lower 5 on the Japanese intensity scale, hit the town of Chonan in the northeastern part of the prefecture, the agency said. Jolts with an intensity of 3 were also felt in central Tokyo, where it shook buildings, according to witnesses.

The quake, which measured as magnitude 5 by the US Geological Survey, could be felt in Tokyo — where buildings shook, but there is no tsunami threat and no readily visible damage.

Earthquake shakes Tokyo shortly before Trump arrives

The government set up an emergency unit at the Prime Minister’s Office to gather information. There were no reports of major damage.

An 84-year-old woman suffered injuries after falling at her home in the city of Chiba, according to the Chiba Prefectural Government.

Earthquake shakes Tokyo shortly before Trump arrives

At a news conference, Satoshi Harada, senior coordinator for seismological information at the agency, called on residents in areas shaken hard to stay alert for more earthquakes measuring up to around lower 5 over the next week.

Trump is the first foreign leader to visit Japan in the “Reiwa” era, which formally began Emperor Naruhito was crowned on May 1. Japan’s eras mark who the emperor is and form the basis for the Japanese calendar system.

Earthquake shakes Tokyo shortly before Trump arrives

Former Emperor Akihito, 85, presided over the Heisei era, which ended the day he stepped down in April.

Earthquake shakes Tokyo shortly before Trump arrives

During Trump’s largely ceremonial visit to Japan, he will meet the country’s new emperor and will also hold discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — with trade and North Korea high on the agenda. He is joined by first lady Melania Trump.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who arrived in Tokyo on Saturday for a four-day state visit, will get down to business on Sunday with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — by playing golf and watching sumo.

But, as strange as it may seem, these are serious diplomatic events for the two leaders, who have enjoyed a close personal relationship since Trump became president in January 2017.

Officials and experts have said the top priority for Trump’s visit for both sides is to show off the two leaders’ ties and highlight a strong Japan-U.S. alliance in the face of threats from China and North Korea.

Earthquake shakes Tokyo shortly before Trump arrives

Separately, in news that would have been well-received in Tokyo, a senior U.S. official said Wednesday that trade would not be a top issue, according to media reports.

“I don’t think that the purpose of this trip is to focus on trade. It’s really to be state guests of their majesties,” the official said, referring to Trump’s scheduled meeting with Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.

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For Abe, playing golf with Trump is not merely a chance to cut loose.

Rather, Abe has built up a close relationship with the U.S. president, one of the most world’s most unpredictable leaders, by using his time on the links with Trump to discuss several pressing diplomatic issues, according to Japanese officials.

As a result, he is now widely seen as one of the only — if not the only — foreign leaders who can speak comfortably with Trump.

Abe has pinned most of his key diplomatic policies, including those on China and North Korea, on Japan’s alliance with the U.S. and his strong personal ties with Trump are often considered a huge advantage for Tokyo — though some have criticized him for having too cozy of a relationship with the U.S. leader.

But one item the two leaders are expected to talk about is their approach to North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Earthquake shakes Tokyo shortly before Trump arrives

According to a key senior Japanese diplomat, the North has recently stopped actively contacting the U.S. and other countries, leaving denuclearization talks between the two “deadlocked.”

“North Korea has shut itself up recently” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “I think the U.S. is now monitoring what move Pyongyang will make first.”

On Tuesday, the final day of Trump’s visit, in what experts say is part of a concerted effort to demonstrate strong ties, Trump and Abe are scheduled to board the Kaga — Japan’s largest warship along with its sister ship, the Izumo — at the Maritime Self-Defense Force’s base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The Kaga and Izumo helicopter carriers are due to be remodeled into de facto aircraft carriers. The Izumo is on deployment in the Indian Ocean after conducting joint exercises with the U.S. and several other countries in the disputed South China Sea.

Trump will try to “demonstrate that the Japan-U.S. alliance is effective and firm against China and North Korea” during his visit, said Kazuhiro Maeshima, a professor at Sophia University and an expert on American politics and diplomacy.

Mary Greeley News

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