Sunao Takao was the loyal interpreter at Shinzo Abe's side, helping Japan's then-leader to understand Donald Trump as they navigated contentious issues while riding around in golf carts. Now, as a second Trump presidency becomes a real prospect, Japanese officials are preparing to deploy the Harvard-educated Takao to bolster engagement with the Republican candidate's campaign ahead of the Nov. 5 U.S. election, hoping to forestall any policy shocks for Tokyo.

Six people with knowledge of the matter said Takao, who is nearing the end of a posting to Japan's Embassy in Beijing, is likely to move to a U.S.-focused role, enabling Tokyo to leverage his knowledge of and familiarity with Trump. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Four of the sources said some officials want Takao sent to Japan's Embassy in Washington, though two said he might do the job from Tokyo. Talks are ongoing and decisions on location and timing have not been finalized, four of the people said.