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Trump Meeting With Abe At Akasaka Palace; Trump And Abe Will Hold News Conference This Hour; Trump Downplaying Significance of Recent North Korean Missile Launches; Centrists Lose Ground in E.U. Parliamentary Elections. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired May 27, 2019 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Live from the CNN center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. Thank you for joining us. We are waiting for U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to host a news conference from Akasaka Palace in Tokyo.

The two leaders have been meeting the past few hours to discuss trade, military ties, and North Korea. During remarks a short time ago, the president said relations between the U.S. and Japan are the strongest they have ever been and that Washington's relationship with North Korea has come a long way.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A lot of things are happening, a lot of very positive things are happening on trade. I personally think that lots of good things will come with North Korea. I feel that. I may be right, I may be wrong, but I feel that we've come a long way.

There's been no rocket testing, there's been no nuclear testing. There's been very little activity from that standpoint so I think we've come a long way with North Korea. We'll see what happens.


VANIER: Even though we do know that there have been recent missile tests, the latest one just earlier this month. And Mr. Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton says those recent tests breached U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has agreed with that statement. Still, he is echoing the president's sentiments about the strong relationship between their two countries.


SHINZO ABE, PRIME MINISTER, JAPAN (through translator): I am determined to demonstrate both at home and abroad that there is very strong bond of Japan and U.S. alliance in the new era (END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Earlier the president made history as the first world leader to meet with Japan's new emperor. You're watching the pictures there. First Lady Melania Trump accompanied him. This was a few hours ago during a welcome ceremony at Imperial Palace which was filled with plenty of pomp and pageantry. Take a look.

CNN's Senior White House Correspondent Pamela Brown joins us from the news conference. She's on the phone. Senior International Correspondent Ivan Watson is also live with us in Tokyo. Ivan, were expected Trump and Abe to speak this hour. As soon as they do we'll be carrying those comments live.

Before their meeting, the U.S. President mentioned North Korea and he touted his accomplishment so far. You wanted to give us some perspective on that?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yes. I mean, he has clearly made it -- he's repeating the fact that he is committed to a diplomatic track with North Korea since his two face- to-face summits with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un -- where there seemed to be some contradictions between not only President Trump's position and Japan and President Trump's position and the public statements just Saturday of his national security advisor John Bolton is when it comes to missile tests on the part of the North Koreans.

We just heard from President Trump saying that there have been no rocket tests, no nuclear tests. There was a long pause in intercontinental ballistic missile tests and missile launches, but on May 4th of this month, North Korea carried out a series of tests of what North Korean state media later described as long-range, large- caliber, multiple rockets and ballistic, tactical guided weapons.

Then on May 9th, according to the Pentagon, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles. Japan said that these were in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions. John Bolton on Saturday said the same, President Trump has downplayed that throughout the weekend saying that those launches did not bother him, and he repeated that again sitting alongside Shinzo Abe the Japanese Prime Minister.

Japan is especially sensitive to these missile launches since North Korea has fired multiple intercontinental ballistic missiles over its own territory. And within a matter of hours, President Trump is expected to sit down with the families of Japanese citizens who are believed to have been abducted by North Korea.

That is one of the other major issues that Japan is very, very concerned about and that it brings up again and again with it's very close U.S. ally. Cyril?

VANIER: Pam, you were in the room where Mr. Trump and Mr. Abe are going to hold a press conference. We believe according to the current schedule that'll be in about 30 minutes. We're keeping an eye out for that.

Tell me something um Trump and Abe have now met or spoken more than 40 times. Does that make the Japanese Prime Minister Trump's closest ally in the world stage?

[01:05:18] PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It does. Certainly Prime Minister Abe -- my apologies is President Trump's closest friend on the world stage. And those leaders have touted close relationship as you mentioned. They talked more than 40 times. The Prime Minister was the first foreign leader to come to America to meet with President Trump after the election.

The question though is how much of that paid off for Abe because he has put in this extraordinary time and effort of cultivating a relationship with President Trump yet, President Trump still has the steel and aluminum tariffs, and as you were just talking with Ivan, he has downplayed the threat from North Korea.

Just yesterday, while we are in Japan, he basically said it wasn't a big deal that North Korea tested those short ranged missiles. So that is really the question for the Prime Minister is whether those effort have played off. It is true though that, so far, he has been able to stave off those auto tariffs.

In fact, President Trump said that they would not be working on any (INAUDIBLE) any bipartisan trade deal until after the (INAUDIBLE) house elections in July in Japan. And so perhaps it has something off this moment here, but not on a larger scale.

VANIER: Yes, Ivan, if I can bring you back in. I mean, that's a very good point that Pam is making. We're seeing Japan roll out the red carpet, we are seeing this very close personal relationship between the two leaders, and yet on the major issues, on the substance with North Korea you told us about, where they're trade, the two countries still don't see eye to eye.

WATSON: Yes, I mean, there are differences, but the symbolism of this visit and the demonstration we are seeing in the Japanese Prime Minister's words, is that this is to demonstrate at home and abroad the strength of the U.S.-Japanese alliance.

So, yes, there are points of contention here, and it is clear that the trade talks are going to be an issue going forward, that the White House was not able to get a bilateral trade deal with Japan ahead of this visit from President Trump. But despite those differences, the common interests and the strength of the relations between two countries, between two governments, and between two leaders are paramount at this time.

Let's not forget the fact that Japan has a pacifist constitution. It relies on the U.S. for military defense. There are some 50,000 troops stationed in Japan. President Trump will be visiting a navy base here on Tuesday before he leaves this country. Those are examples of how closely intertwined these two countries are.

And it's all the more important when President Trump, though he's committed to diplomacy with the North Korean dictator, it has not been going well. The last summit in Hanoi ended up in his abrupt and early departure. That was back in February. His personal diplomacy with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, while there are constant and repeated statements of respect between the two leaders, there is a raging trade war between these two countries.

There may be some point of tension between Washington and Tokyo, but what these two leaders have shown is that whether they're sharing a Japanese dinner here in the Roppongi district of Tokyo or watching sumo or playing golf together, that these are friends that can work together despite differences. Cyril?

VANIER: Ivan, you know, I know it's cliche to say that Japan rolled out the red carpet for the U.S. President, but they really, really did. And I want to put a pictures of Donald Trump meeting the Japanese Emperor and perhaps you can speak to the significance of being the first foreign leader to meet the new emperor.

WATSON: Well, yes, you have a new emperor. He's just ascended from the Chrysanthemum just less than a month ago, a 59-year-old man, after his father abdicated from that role. And he's very first meeting with a foreign head of state is the American President.

A number of Japanese experts would say, that would be the case, regardless whichever American president was in the White House, because the U.S. is Japan's most important ally. But clearly, there's a great deal of symbolism here. This is the beginning of what is described as the Reiwa error -- era rather, beautiful harmony as that is translated.

So this is Japan reaffirming its strong bonds with the U.S., its closest and most important ally, a pillar of its defense policy, these leaders of the world's first and third largest economies. So there's a great deal of ceremony here and a demonstration that these two leaders in these two governments are committed to each other.

[01:10:23] And I think as Pam is mentioned, in one of the areas where there is friction, something that President Trump has been complaining about since the 1980s, and that's the trade surplus that Japan enjoys with the U.S. that the White House made a concession to President Trump's friend Shinzo Abe, they've agreed to postpone some of the negotiations over trade until after Abe gets to hold elections in July for the upper house of the Japanese national assembly, the Parliament the diet here, the legislative body.

So that if there are some concessions that Japan has to make, that may hurt the Japanese economy which is already slowing. We've gotten government predictions that the economy is worsening that that may come after this political cycle is completed. So that I see as a concession from President Trump to his friend Shinzo Abe, this leader that he's spoken with some 40 times since his election in 2016.

VANIER: Ivan Watson, Pamela Brown, both in Tokyo, thank you very much. And joining me now from Los Angeles, CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein, also again in Tokyo, Jeffrey Kingston, Director of Asian Studies at Temple University, Japan. Ron, I'll start with you. Mr. Trump left Washington a couple days

ago. He was embroiled in stories about impeachment, about subpoenas, about his fights with Nancy Pelosi in Congress, about tax returns etcetera, etcetera, the list goes on, Japan has been good for him.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's a common trope in American politics that the presidents who killed himself under siege at home often find comfort abroad. You know, in this case, both of these leaders have a lot invested in the other. I mean, as you've been discussing, Prime Minister Abe has really put a lot into the idea that his personal relationship with President Trump will allow Japan to avoid the kind of fulmination and eruptions and trade confrontations that other American allies have seen notably you know both European, and Mexico, and Canada, and obviously the confrontation with China.

And conversely, I think Abe allows Trump to basically refute the idea that he is completely isolated on the international stage. They both have a lot at stake in making this work and we'll see how well that can hold up once they get to the substance of this roughly $55 billion trade deficit.

VANIER: Yes, and Paul, earlier, I asked you how Trump was perceived in Japan. I have a slightly different question, how is this visit perceived? I mean, how do Japanese feel this visit is going?

JEFFREY KINGSTON, DIRECTOR OF ASIAN STUDIES, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY JAPAN: Well, I think that Trump has felt the love of the Japanese people. He went to see the sumo yesterday, he got a standing -- everybody has tried to take pictures. You could just see him basking in than that. He really enjoyed it.

So you know, I think the Japanese people, in general, have a fairly low opinion of Trump. He's the least hostile and least popular president ever among the Japanese. But you know, you don't get to choose your president. And Japan needs the United States and so Shinzo Abe is pulling out all the stops to try to make their bromance bloom, and hope that that helps them manage an erratic partner.

VANIER: And Jeffrey, and thank you for our name. I misspoke earlier. I apologize for that. Ron, how -- ultimately what is the White House trying to get out of this visit?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, look, I mean, I think -- I think the biggest -- the biggest thing from any foreign travel for the president is I think is kind of a tightrope. Because on the one hand, his brand is that he is standing up for America in a way that other presidents have not.

And conversely I think as this has gone on and as you can see the Democratic argument for 2020 beginning to take shape, he also wants to show that he is not as isolated on the international stage as the Democrats are already portraying and will be portraying.

I don't think there is a you know, I don't think there is a lot of as we've said, on the trade side, they're kind of putting those tough questions off until after the Japanese elections in July. So I think what he probably most is hoping for in this trip is no daylight on North Korea which is difficult because obviously, the Japanese are more concerned about these intermediate-range missile launches than the president has tweeted in the last few days.

VANIER: Jeffrey, I want to reference back to -- go back to a point that Pamela Brown was making earlier.

[01:15:01] This friendship between Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe, raises the question, what does Abe get out of it because Trump hasn't changed anything about his approach to North Korea, his approach to trade, is Abe going to have to make some concessions to maintain this friendship or is he going to be able to leverage that friendship and get some of what he wants?

KINGSTON: I don't think the friendship is going to take him very far, Trump is very transactional, I think that Abe is trying to stave off, you know, a trade war with United States by urging Japan Inc. to boost investments in battleground states, United States, and he is also really amped up the purchases of expensive military systems from the United States.

So, I think, this is what he hopes will buy him a little breathing room. But, you know, Trump has said, look, I'm going to cut him some slack, we're not going to go hardball until August, but he also said he has high expectations on (INAUDIBLE) and auto, so I think that's a brewing trade problem.

But more importantly, I think, for Abe, right now, is trying to dampen down the trade war with China. I think that is going to cause considerable collateral damage in Japan. And regarding Ron's point about daylight between Trump and Abe on North Korea, we see quite a bit of that.

When Trump said no big deal about the missile launches, it is a very big deal here. It happened right after Abe said I am very interested in meeting Kim without any preconditions, quite a response.

VANIER: Yes, absolutely, and our Ivan Watson was pointing that out as well at the beginning of the show, that Mr. Trump, when he touted his accomplishments, said there have been no rocket launches, it was just factually inaccurate, just completing your point there.

Ron, I would be remiss if I didn't ask you about one of the President's earlier tweets when he got to Japan, appearing to side with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un, against the former vice president of the United States, Joe Biden.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes, and we don't even need to put the word, appearing, I think, in there. I think he very unequivocally did, very clearly did, in that tweet. And it's interesting because, you know, it's a classic, kind of, Trump maneuver that you can imagine both sides, wanting to come back to in 2020.

You know, on one hand, I think, you know, Trump will try to portray, if Biden is the -- whoever is the Democratic nominee, certainly Biden's the nominee, portray him as, kind of, over the hill and (INAUDIBLE) and use, really, whatever ammunition he can in that case, including the, you know, the remarkable, spectacle of kind of quoting the North Korean dictator.

On the other hand, I think that this is the kind of tweet that if Biden is the nominee, he is certainly going to bring up, in his case, that Trump is, kind of, traducing the dignity of the presidency, isolating the U.S. and the world, citing with dictators over allies, it struck me as one of the rare Trump tweets that I felt would be on the inner circle of those that we are going to hear about again, in November, in the fall, at least, of 2020.

VANIER: Ron, really quick, do you -- do you actually think that Kim Jong-un or anybody in North Korea really brought up Joe Biden in the conversation with Donald Trump?

BROWNSTEIN: You have to wonder, right? You do -- you do have to wonder. But like I said, I think if Joe Biden is the nominee, he will be as eager to talk about this tweet as Donald Trump is.

VANIER: All right, Ron Brownstein, Jeffrey Kingston, thank you so much to both of you for your insights.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

VANIER: Europe's Centrist Party lose some ground, coming up, election results that showed the changing makeup of the European parliament. Stay with us.




VANIER: Europe's Centrist Parties have lost a ground in the European parliamentary elections. That's just one of the highlights as the results continue to be finessed. Nationalists made strong gains in some countries, but, overall, Europe's populist surge appears to have stalled, as millions of voters backed vehemently pro E.U. parties instead.

Voter turnout was the highest in 25 years at 50.5 percent. That bears noticing as well. Green parties had their strongest showing ever, finishing second in Germany. Italy's league, the anti-immigrant party of Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini was leading the Italian vote after speaking with France's nationalist, Marine Le Pen, and Hungary's populist, Viktor Orban.

Salvini said the vote allows them to try to change Europe. And Greece's leftist Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, called snap elections for next month, after a resounding defeat. We begin our coverage with Erin McLaughlin in Brussels.


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, big headline here at the European Parliament Election Center was voter turnout -- voter turnout came in at a whopping 50.5 percent and an 8 percentage point gain on voter turnout from 2014. And the first time in the history of these elections that voter turnout actually increased.

They've been on a steady decline since the elections first happened in 1979. It was figure, I can tell you, that will be -- leave many E.U. officials pleased, voter turnout, low voter turnout long been seen as a signal of voter apathy, this showing that Europeans are more enthusiastic about these elections.

Other major headlines from the evening, the so-called grand coalition, comprised of center-right, center-left parties for the first time, lost its majority. Now, to put this in perspective, between 2014 and 2019, 74 percent of the legislation that made its way through European parliament was passed because of the grand coalition.

Well, that coalition is grand no more. Now, those parties are going to have to be looking at smaller groupings for some sort of coalition to be able to pass legislation. We've seen big gains from liberals, the (INAUDIBLE) grouping. We've also seen gains by the Eurosceptics, strong gains in some areas, but overall, this is very much a pro- European Parliament.

Erin McLaughlin, CNN, Brussels.


VANIER: And Britain took part in the E.U. elections, thanks to the Brexit deadline extension. The vote was viewed as a referendum on the country's two main parties, Conservatives and Labour. Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party came out on top. He says that should the message that Britain wants to leave Europe, now. But as Nina dos Santos reports, the country is divided as ever.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN LONDON BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: The European Parliamentary elections were the elections that the U.K. was not originally supposed to be getting involved in.

Brexit was already supposed to have happened by March the 29th, but in the absence of Brexit, actually having been delivered by the conservative-led government, it was pummelled in these European Parliamentary elections with the majority of the votes, the largest share, going to the newly launched Brexit party by the former U.K. Independence Party leader, Nigel Farage, the U.K.'s most famous and vocal Eurosceptic export, if you like.

[01:25:18] He made it clear that he wants to use the seats that his party had won in Brussels, to try and shape the U.K.'s extrication from the European Union.

How confident are you that you can translate this into a national party?

NIGEL FARAGE, LEADER, BREXIT PARTY: That all depends to a large -- I mean (INAUDIBLE) we can, how successful it will be will depend on to a large extent on whether we leave on October the 31st. Just as much the 29th, became seared in people's minds as a big important date, October the 31st is the same.

DOS SANTOS: One thing we also learned from these elections is that the U.K. fundamentally remains almost as divided on the subject of Brexit as it was three years ago going into that referendum.

The second most important party that emerged from these elections was the liberal Democrats that's campaigning for the polar opposite of the Brexit Party, while the Brexit Party wants to bring about Brexit as soon as possible, the liberal Democrats want to do all they can to try and fight it.

And the big losers in these elections, of course, was the Conservative Party and the other mainstream opposition, which is the Labour Party, one party that did manage to hold its ground, though, speaking to ongoing concerns about climate change, was the Greens who, originally, their party leader, gained her their first seat here, two decades ago.

Nina dos Santos, CNN, in Southampton, in the South East of England.


VANIER: CNN's Melissa Bell, for her part, is in Paris with the French results.


MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: A disappointing evening for Emmanuel Macron, tonight. The French President had invested so much time and energy in the campaign of his party in these European elections. It was his first electoral test in the French political landscape that was transformed by his victory only two years ago.

In the end, according to the latest results, Marine Le Pen, winning substantially, that will come as a blow for the man who had presented himself only two years ago, as the last bastion against populism. The man who could continue to represent pro-European liberal values and some hope for the future of the European project.

Tonight, Marine Le Pen's Populist and relatively Eurosceptic Party, has won the evening, again, a reminder of that retreat behind borders that were seeing from a number of populist parties across the European Union tonight. They haven't won, outright, as they'd hoped to, the Populist Party's Europe wide, but they had made substantial gains in these elections.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.


VANIER: All right. We're listening to the U.S. President speaking in Tokyo.

TRUMP: And I can tell you that it's very much in my mind. I can tell you for certain that it is your Prime Minister's primary goal. There is not a meeting that we have where he doesn't bring up the abductees.

And we will work together, you have a great prime minister, he loves this country, he loves you. And we will be working together to bring your relatives, your daughters, your sons, your mother's home, and we'll work on that together.

VANIER: All right. You've just been listening to U.S. Donald Trump, he's speaking in Tokyo, where it is mid-afternoon. His next day's host, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, they are meeting with families of people who have been abducted by North Korea.

Now, this has been a priority for the host nation, Japan, during this U.S. State visit, which was to bring President Trump to meet these families. This has been an issue that have been particularly sensitive for Japan, with respect to North Korea.

TRUMP: I've been hearing them for a second time. The last time we were here, we did this and it was an honor to do it and meet these incredible people. You may just briefly say a word to the media about your mother and maybe about your daughter, and we'll get just a little sampling of what we're talking about. But, I can see why your great prime minister feels so strongly about it.


SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The President sacrificed -- spent some time to top. We should meet with a family members of the captives and listen to them.

Mr. President and the First Lady, thank you very much for spending time with the family members of those who have been abducted by North Korea. I'm particularly grateful for your kind gesture that you showed by listening very carefully to their own stories of their family members.

President Trump did raise the abductions issue at the second summit meeting with Chairman Kim Jong-in Hanoi. On that occasion, Mr. President also conveyed my perspective on the relationships between Japan and North Korea. And I would like to talk to the family members here that President Trump has been consistently taking into account the genuine feelings shared by the family members of Mr. President both on foreign policies and foreign policy agenda on North Korea.

And I'm convinced that President Trump has been making every effort to realize those resolution of abductions and his team have this opportunity. I would like to thank some members (INAUDIBLE) to share their stories with the media people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, and First Lady -- thank you very much for your time and also thank you very much for very carefully listening to the stories that I shared with you about my mother.

My mother has been separated from her spouse and all of her family members for the past 41 years. and I sincerely hope that Mr. Prime Minister and Mr. President both ready (INAUDIBLE) that we keep this issues for us to realize the return of my mother to Japan as soon as possible.

[04:34:54] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you very much Mr. President and First Lady. If I may reiterate my appreciation, gratitude for even for the support this issue (ph). I would like to underscore the fact but you are spending time for the second time with family members of the abductees show how serious you are towards resolving the abduction issue.

And also Mr. President, this raises the abduction issue when you talked to Chairman Kim Jong-un. And since then, we started to see some tangible or concrete progress for the resolution of this issue for the first time in history. So in that sense we have the greatest trust in you -- Mr. President.

And also Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. But we are (INAUDIBLE) force that's not only the return of the FST (Ph). Also we are would like to see world peace and we are seeking the resolution of the abduction issue, to see peace in North Korea and also we want to see the people in North Korea have been liberated from starvation or other -- some things that they have been experiencing until now.

So we have to work together for achieving a global peace, and I will share with you my aspirations for peace, as well as my commitment to global peace, and on this occasion I like to ask for your continuous support.

Thank you very much.

VANIER: All right. It's early afternoon in Tokyo where we have been seeing live pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump, and his host, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as they met with family members of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea.

I want to bring in senior international correspondent Ivan Watson. He's live in Tokyo. He's going to shed some light o this for us. Senior White House correspondent Pamela Brown is also covering the President's trip, and she's going to be talking to us in just a second. She's standing by.

Ivan -- I just want o recap for people who are joining us right now, that this is an event that is as I understand it happening in Akasaka Palace -- that is where the President and the Prime Minister had been meeting.

They've been really getting down to business earlier today, talking about trade, talking about the military, talking about North Korea.

But this -- this stands apart, this stands apart. As I understand it the Japanese, it was a priority for them to include this in this four=day state visit. Explain to me how -- explain to me the significance of this meeting for the Japanese side.

WATSON: Well, this is a priority for Japan, a priority for the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. It is the second time now that President Trump on visits here has met with the families of Japanese abducted by North Korea. And he said it was an honor to once again conduct this meeting. But this abductee issue is clearly one of those thorny problems between North Korea and the outside world, that is in addition to North Korea's arsenal of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles, it is that according to the United Nations Human Rights Council and its report in 2014, North Korea kidnapped hundreds of Japanese, South Koreans and other foreign nationals after the conclusion of the Korean War in 1953.

It was one of several very problematic behavior patterns and activities on the part of the North Koreans. And the Japanese bring this up with their close U.S. ally again and again because they want their people back.

Japan says officially that 17 of its citizens were abducted. A lot of this was taking place in the sixties and the seventies and the eighties and that only five were returned.

So we heard from some of those people, President Trump heard from some of those people and that fact that the White House is taking the time to listen to them also indicates that the White House is listening to what are the domestic political priorities of Shinzo Abe the Japanese prime minister.

[01:39:55] And if at any point President Trump is able to reach some kind of diplomatic solution with Pyongyang -- and that's not entirely clear if that will ever happen -- Tokyo is making it clear that wants the abductees one city objective issue to be somewhere in that potential scenario -- Cyril.

VANIER: Let's bring in Pamela Brown. Pam -- I would imagine that this particular issue is something that would resonate with Donald Trump given that he has advocated and securd the release of the remains of U.S. soldiers who died in Korea. This is something that he can relate too.

BROWN: That is absolutely right. He said, not long ago that this issue has been very much on his mind. He said he actually promised, he was promising to bring home the abducted Japanese citizens FROM North Korea

VANIER: Yes. All right. We are having issues with the audio connection there with Pamela Brown,

let me bring in our guest from Tokyo Jeffrey Kingston. Jeffrey is back with us. He's director of Asian Studies at Temple University of Japan. Jeffrey -- I want to come to you with the same question as I was asking Pamela. This is an issue that is on Donald Trump's radar.

KINGSTON: Well absolutely, and this is a signature policy for Prime Minister Abe. This is the issue that sort of catapulted him into power. And for him, you know, It's a matter of his personal commitment. And I think that he has really convinced Trump to go to back for Japan but for Abe, you know, it's also critical for him to try to have a dialog directly with Kim. And he has offered to meet him unconditionally.

So you know, resolving the fate of the missing abductees is critically important for Vibe, but much as the rest of the world especially around here is a little bit more worried about the nuclear weapons program, and how to dismantle that.

VANIER: But what is the idea here? Is the idea that this issue could be rolled into a grander bargain on North Korean nuclear and missile program? And maybe if that is resolved then you can sort of add an addendum on the abductees.

KINGSTON: Yes, possibly. I think that probably makes sense to address these issues separately, by we say well one thing can happen unless the other thing happens. I think that is probably not going to work out very well. So I think it is very important to pursue the abductee issue. But I don't think it should be used in ways to marginalize the importance of the nuclear weapons program.

And so, really, I think the key issue here is to make sure that Abe and Trump are on the same page regarding North Korea, there seems to have been some doubts stirred by the tweet that Trump issued earlier on in his visit. And now it appears that maybe they are getting closer.

But clearly when Trump downplayed the importance of the missile launch, that did not go down well with Tokyo because here, it is a big deal.

VANIER: All right, stand by Jeffrey let me go back to Ivan Watson. And we are keeping on, you can see the bottom right of your screen, we are keeping an eye on the podiums where Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe are going to be giving a conference we believe, in a short amount of time.

Ivan Watson, what do we expect from that press conference?

WATSON: Well, we've already gotten a bit of a precursor, where President Trump and the Japanese Prime Minister said that they'd be discussing in their bilateral talks trade, North Korea and other matters affecting the world. One subject that popped up was, in a reporter's question was Iran and the fact that Japan has quite cordial ties with Iran. And that President Trump appeared to be open to that fact and was endorsing the possibility of talking to Tehran, and maybe even raising that scenario of a road leading to Tehran through Tokyo, and through Shinzo Abe.

We may hear some more about trade talks though President Trump has made it clear that more substantial discussions of any real concrete announcements could wait until possibly as late as August, to allow elections to take place here in July for the upper house here in Japan's legislative body, to allow the political cycle to close here clearly as a favor to the Japanese prime minister.

[01:44:58] And just one last point on the abductee issue, the Trump administration has made it clear when it is touting what it says are its accomplishments with North Korea. It argues that North Korea has suspended nuclear tests, that it suspended launches missiles. But that is not entirely true. We had short range ballistic missiles launched on May 9th by North Korea. And that it got American abductees returned home. And that is one of the things that the Trump administration has applauded itself for. We have to recall that one of those people is Otto Warmbier, that American student who was returned in a vegetative state and subsequently died. And that's been a difficult thing for the Trump administration, and a tragedy for it to deal with, while pushing forward with diplomacy with Pyongyang -- Cyril.

VANIER: Ivan Watson reporting live from Tokyo.

Now I also want to thank Jeffrey Kingston who was standing by. We are still waiting -- we're told now it's about 20 minutes before the press conference between Donald Trump and Shinzo Abe.

Will be right back.


VANIER: Yet another tornado in Oklahoma has brought devastation and death to America's Midwest. CNN's Omar Jimenez is there with the jaw- dropping images.


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Many people here in this Oklahoma community still dealing with the aftermath of a deadly tornado that ripped through in a matter of minutes.

There are two places in particular that were really destroyed. One, a mobile home park. Literally the tornado was so strong it lifted up entire trailers, and slammed them back on the ground. At least two people killed there.

[01:50:01] And the other set of images we are seeing that are just harrowing come from a hotel. And really there is no other word to describe it other than decimated.

And as you see those images, believe it or not there are people that survived that who were inside that hotel when the tornado came through. We spoke to one of them who told us that he went to bed like any other the night before and then a little bit later in the evening he woke up when his windows were rattling. They later shattered.

So he dove under the bed and just a few moments later the entire roof came crashing down. He said if it weren't for the bed next to him providing support he would have been completely crushed. He was able to crawl out of that rubble, nothing on except for shorts. No shirt, no shoes, and into the pitch black darkness, until emergency responders arrived.

Now we've got more details about this tornado over the course of Sunday. The National Weather Service saying, this is classified as an EF-3 tornado, 5 being the most severe. It was on the ground for just a matter of four minutes, and you see how much destruction it actually brought through. And let's remember, this didn't just happen in a vacuum. It comes on the tail end of a week where we have seen the big tornadoes. A week where we have seen high floodwaters, and a week where we have seen plenty of high water rescues including here in the El Reno (ph) area. The mayor telling us they conducted about 46 high water rescues just days ago. And here we are days later on the scene of a deadly tornado.

Omar Jimenez, CNN -- El Reno, Oklahoma.


VANIER: Stay with us we will be right back.


VANIER: All right. Before we leave you this hour we're going to take another look at the live pictures out of Tokyo where it is mid- afternoon in the Japanese capital. Donald Trump has been on a four- day state visit to Japan. We are expecting him to hold a press conference with his host, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The highlights of the trip so far has been undoubtedly meeting the new Japanese emperor. Mr. Trump was the first foreign leader to do so.

He also worked on his friendship with the Japanese leader there. They went for a round of golf, shared several meals. They have now seen each other or spoken to each other there upward of 40 times. Making Shinzo Abe possibly Donald Trump's closest ally on the world stage.

Now the two countries have reaffirmed the strength of their alliance. However, on the substantive issue of North Korea. Trade -- there is still a lot of daylight between the two leaders.

Mr. Trump had staked out his position very clearly on both of those issues in the really opening moments of this visit. We're going to find out pretty soon in a press conference that CNN will carry live whether there has been any agreement that they came to, Mr. Trump saying that they were going to meet on the issues on military, cooperation, on trade and on North Korea.

We will be bringing that press conference live to you as and when it happens here on CNN.

Thank you so much for joining us this hour. I'm Cyril Vanier.

Another hour of news is up next with Rosemary church and George Howell. You're in great hands. Have a good day.