President Trump announced on Monday that he has officially bid farewell to outgoing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced last week that he is resigning from his position for health reasons.
“Abe will soon be recognized as the greatest Prime Minister in the history of Japan, whose relationship with the USA is the best it has ever been,” Trump wrote on Twitter after speaking personally with Abe. “Special man!”
Abe is resigning as the longest-serving Japanese Prime Minister after serving three consecutive terms. Abe will remain in the position until a successor is chosen in September.
“For almost eight years I controlled my chronic disease, however, this year in June I had a regular check-up and there was a sign of the disease,” Abe said at a press conference on Friday. “I made a judgment that I should not continue my job as prime minister. I need to fight the disease and need to be treated.”
President Trump and the Japanese leader have maintained a warm relationship since Trump took office, and the pair have worked closely together to achieve a number of policy objectives such as a new trade deal in 2019 and peace negotiations with North Korea.
“Alliances cannot function without trust. I am now confident that President-elect Trump is a trustworthy leader,” said Abe after a 2016 meeting with Trump.
President Trump responded to Abe’s resignation announcement on Friday, telling reporters “I want to pay my highest respect to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe […] a great friend of mine. I just feel very badly about it.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also praised Abe in a State Department memo, writing that Abe “championed our Alliance as a cornerstone of peace and security, and he advanced a free and open Indo-Pacific by working with the United States to build a network of partnerships across the region. We thank him for his many years of dedicated service and wish him a speedy and complete recovery.”