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sumo diplomacy
May 26, 2019

Sumo wrestling and trade negotiations make for an unlikely combination. But Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is hoping the two mesh well.

During his visit to Japan on Sunday, President Trump presented a special "President's Cup" trophy to the winner of a sumo wrestling tournament, one of Japan's most significant cultural institutions. The winner, Asanoyama, became the first recipient of a winner's trophy awarded by a United States president.

Trump and first lady Melania Trump sat in ringside armchairs during the bouts, The Guardian reports, as opposed to the traditional form of viewership — sitting cross-legged on thin cushions.

The gesture, orchestrated by Abe, is widely viewed as a diplomatic attempt to flatter Trump as the two countries gear up for trade negotiations, which Trump tweeted would likely develop more fully after Japan's elections in July.

In the short term, at least, it appears Abe made the right call — Trump seems to have enjoyed the moment. Tim O'Donnell

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