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Prime Minister Shinzo Abe prioritized pomp over policy while hosting U.S. President Donald Trump this week. The one exception was the issue of North Korea, which recently conducted more short-range missile tests off its east coast. Abe is clearly anxious about keeping Japan and the United States on the same page now that Trump’s denuclearization talks with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un have faltered. But at a joint news conference Monday, Trump dismissed concerns about the latest tests — breaking not just with Abe but also his own advisers.

Abe has every reason to worry that Kim is gaining an important diplomatic edge. To be sure, as the North Korean economy struggles and food shortages loom, Kim’s bromance with Trump has failed to secure an easing of economic sanctions. But he has now reshuffled his negotiating team and tried to strike a statesmanlike pose, offering to hold yet another summit with Trump if the terms are right.

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