Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he has “no choice” but to forge close ties with U.S. President Donald Trump despite staunch criticism in Japan and around the world about the polarizing U.S. leader.

After returning from the United States from a meeting and a round of golf with Trump, Abe said at a Feb. 14 meeting of the Lower House Budget Committee that Japan has no other option, citing the tough national security environment.

“We have no choice but to build a close relationship with Trump and show it to the world,” Abe said

The prime minister also said he will be a bridge between the U.S. president and other world leaders who have expressed concerns about Trump’s White House. Abe, who said he will visit Germany in March for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, added that Japan can “play a part not to allow the world to be divided.”

Abe was answering questions from Seiji Maehara of the main opposition Democratic Party, a former foreign minister.

Maehara warned about the risks of placing priority on close relations with Trump at a time when the U.S. president has drawn fire from the global community over his hard-line policies, including a temporary ban on immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

“Trump is a leader who divides society,” Maehara said. “Did the prime minister make a conscious decision that being close to a president with so many opponents could lead the global community to turn a stern eye toward Japanese people?”

Maehara’s question was based on many lawmakers’ regrets over Japan’s support of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Then Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who heavily stressed the importance of Japan-U.S. relations, overrode protests at home and met U.S. requests for Tokyo’s support for the invasion ahead of many other countries.

Koizumi later came under fire after the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq in March 2003 found no weapons of mass destruction, the Bush administration’s basis for the war.

Abe, however, indicated he would not be wrapped around Trump’s little finger by recounting an episode when Barack Obama was the U.S. president.

Abe said that during a meeting with Obama in September 2013, the president requested Japan’s support for air strikes on Syria.

The prime minister said he demanded evidence for Washington’s claim that the Syrian military had used chemical weapons against rebel forces in the civil war.

The United States eventually offered “hard evidence” to Japan, Abe said.

Abe also reiterated the government’s position that Japan will not provide logistical support in a military campaign against the Islamic State terrorist group.

Trump has vowed to eradicate the Islamic State group, and Abe was responding to a question from Kiyomi Tsujimoto, a Democratic Party lawmaker, on whether the United States has requested SDF deployment for such a campaign.

Abe sidestepped a question about the Trump administration possibly relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. International society does not recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, and a move to the holy city would likely exacerbate violence in the Middle East.

“We did have candid exchanges about relations with Israel, but I am not in a position to comment since it is a matter that Washington will decide,” Abe said.

Maehara lashed out at Abe for not standing firm against the idea.

“I would have told the president ‘by all means, no’ because (relocating the embassy to Jerusalem) could lead to another major war in the Middle East,” Maehara said. “The prime minister cannot help being described as a chicken that follows whatever a ferocious animal says.”