President Donald Trump made history on Monday at Japan's Imperial Palace where he made history by becoming the first world leader to meet with the new emperor and empress of Japan.
The president and first lady Melania Trump began the formal visit with handshakes and and an intimate greeting at the palace's front entrance.
Audio was strictly forbidden on the encounter but the president appeared to to thank Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako for their incredible hospitality.
'How are you? Thank you very much,' he mouthed as he approached the imperial couple. He congratulated the monarch on his enthronement, which he said people are talking about all over the world.
Melania Trump told the empress, 'Nice to meet you.' The two couples proceeded to speak in hushed tones.
Emperor Naruhito and his wife studied at Oxford and spoke English to the Trumps. In a more formal setting several minutes later, the imperial family spoke to the U.S. president and first lady in Japanese, and the couples conversed through translators.
Melania wore a $4,290 white Carolina Herrera dress with floral detailing and red stiletto pumps for the welcome ceremony. The empress wore a cream skirt suit with a cream hat and matching cream pumps. She carried a clutch and gloves that were cream, also.
Trump got the red carpet treatment on Monday at Japan's Imperial Palace where he made history by becoming the first world leader to meet Emperor Naruhito.
At Asakaka Palace later in the morning, President Trump said he had 'fun' at the welcome ceremony that followed and it was an 'honor' to be first foreign leader to meet the new emperor.
Trump met Naruhito's father the last time he was in Japan, in November of 2017, on a similar visit.
'It was very special the last time, and this is very big thing,' he said at the beginning of a bilateral meeting with the Japanese prime minister. 'All over the world, they're talking abut it.'
He'll see the emperor and empress again at a state banquet on Monday evening local time. The Trumps zipped across town from the Imperial Palace to Asakaka for meetings with Shinzo Abe and the Japanese government.
The first lady has her own program at the government building. She'll rejoin her husband at Akasaka for a joint news conference between the U.S. and Japanese governments.
Melania and the Empress chatted as they followed their husbands during the welcome ceremony at the Imperial Palace
On Monday morning, the couple began their day at the Imperial Palace. They participated in a red carpet welcome ceremony in a large court after the formal welcome.
Two military officers escorted the U.S. president along a red carpet that covered the vast expanse, taking him to review the troops while 'Stars and Stripes Forever' while his wife and the imperials watched from afar.
Trump waved as schoolchildren feverishly swung U.S. and Japanese flags back and forth. It was a particularly hot day in Tokyo, and some of children were affected. They were treated with cups of water and cool compresses.
The U.S. president and Emperor Naruthio greeted each other's delegation, before they disappeared inside the Imperial Palace for a gift exchange.
Inside, they shared several minutes of small talk that was barely audible. They couples spoke alone for close to half an hour. Cameras were rushed out of the room before the gift exchange happened.
A White House official said the president gave the emperor a handmade viola from Charleston, West Virginia. The vintage viola crafted in 1938 came in a custom case. Trump gifted Emperor Naruhito a signed photo of American composer Aaron Copland, as well.
He also presented the emperor with a signed, framed photograph of himself. It's a Japanese tradition for the emperor and visiting leaders to exchange autographed photos, the official told press.
Melania Trump gave the empress a custom White House desk set that included a pen carved from a red oak tree in Old Harvard Yard- an acknowledgement of the empress's undergraduate studies at the prestigious American university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She also presented the imperial couple with a photo of herself.
The emperor's gift to Trump was a traditional Japanese pottery and porcelain bowl and a signed and framed photo. Melania received an 'ornamental Japanese lacquer box with traditional design' and a signed and framed photo of the empress.'
Later during his meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister, Trump said he could lean on Japan to smooth over relations with Iran, considering the close relationship Shinzo Abe has with the Iranian government.
'Nobody wants to see terrible things happen. Especially me,' he asserted at Akasaka Palace in a meeting Abe.
Trump said in remarks at the beginning of the discussion that he'd had fun during the first three days of his trip – which included sumo, golf and an imperial welcome ceremony – but now the leaders must get down to the business of discussing the threat from North Korea and the continuing trade imbalance.
'We've had some great talk on trade, and great talk on North Korea,' he said.
He said the relationship had 'never been better than it is right now with Japan' telling press, 'I feel that we understand each other right.'
'We have a situation where we have the best relationship that we've ever had with Japan, and we're going to keep it that way,' he insisted.
Trump said they would also discuss the 'tremendous imbalance' of trade between the two nations.
He'd been tweeting about the topic for days, even though trade talks were not the purpose of the trip to Tokyo.
'This meeting was really having to do with the enthronement of the emperor,' he acknowledged.
He noted that he was the first foreign leader to meet Emperor Naruhito after his May 1 enthronement. 'And that was a great honor. That's a big thing - 202 years, that's the last time this has happened - It's a big thing,' he said.
Trump complimented the Japanese people on their 'long and prosperous history' and called them an 'incredible people' with a 'truly amazing prime minister' whom he said he expects to do a lot of business with over the next couple of years.
'This is an incredible culture. When you talk about interesting and really fabulous places and countries, Japan is going to be right at the top of that list,' he said.
Abe had stopped and started so a translator could give the English-language version of his remarks, which he gave in Japanese before Trump laid out his goals for the meeting.
Trump delivered his long, winding address all at once. A translator spoke for several minutes from his notes for a Japanese audience before the program moved on.
When he'd finished, Trump spoke again, saying three separate meetings would follow: one on military, one on trade and one on North Korea.
'We will be discussing in great detail. Those three very important events, and a lot of things are happening,' the U.S. president said.
The U.S. president and first lady were meeting with Japanese families whose loved ones were abducted by North Korea on Monday afternoon at Akasaka Palace before the press conference that concludes the business portion of Trump's visit.
President Trump had said in a weekend tweet that some people, including his advisers, believe that North Korea is an imminent threat to the United States. He said he does not share their opinion and believes a short-range missile test is not especially concerning.
'I personally think lots of good things will come with North Korea,' President Trump said on Monday. 'I may be right. I may be wrong, but we'll see.'
He said the U.S. had come 'a long way' in its relationship with the regime.
Trump said a great 'respect' has been built with the United States and North Korea. 'Let's see if something constructive can come.'
On trade, he said the U.S. must do a 'little bit of catching up' but thinks it can be evened out quickly.
He suggested the gap would be driven down quickly by heavier Japanese military spending. Trump said the sale of military equipment would bring the spending deficit way down.
Trump said he would visit two military ships on Tuesday before he returns to Washington. One 'spectacular American aircraft carrier' and a Japanese ship that he said was new but is actually an old vessel that the Japanese retrofitted.
'We're doing a combination. We're going to do a double,' he said of the visit to the Japanese and American ships.
This evening, the president noted that he's the guest of honor at a state dinner. 'That's something that's very special,' he said.
Abe stressed that the two nations have a close relationship in remarks before Trump spoke. He said he's played golf with Trump several times, including on an April visit when they hit the links at a course the president owns in Virginia.
They played with Japanese golfer Isao Aoki 'who had a very fierce battle' with American golfer Jack Nicklaus in 1980.
Abe said it was also a 'pleasure' for Japanese sumo wrestler Asanoyama to receive a trophy directly from the president at a Sunday evening sump event.
He said they would discuss 'various challenges of the international community' and that includes North Korea.
'At home and abroad that there is a very strong bond of Japan US alliance in the era of Reiwa,' he said.
Trump noted that Abe and Japan are on good terms with Iran. He said they 'have a really good relationship' and the topic would come up.
'If they'd like to talk, we'd like to talk also,' he said of Iranian leadership.
'Nobody wants to see terrible things happen. Especially me,' he added.
© Associated Newspapers Ltd.