U.S. President Richard Nixon was not good at golf. When he finally got to the green and botched a short putt, he would often ask his opponent for a gimme, which is usually given when the ball is so close to the hole it is deemed unnecessary to play the stroke. His golf partners reluctantly agreed.

President Bill Clinton habitually took mulligans, in which a player is given a second chance and allowed to replay a bad shot. This is outside the formal rules of golf. But since few people had the guts to confront the president, Clinton resorted to the tactic with shameless abandon.

These observations are found in "First Off the Tee: Presidential Hackers, Duffers and Cheaters from Taft to Bush," a book about presidential golf by U.S. journalist Don Van Natta Jr.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, with his new Cabinet now in place, is scheduled to play golf with U.S. President Donald Trump on Nov. 5. According to an American magazine feature on Trump's style of golf, physically he is quite limber, but his manners are crass. He takes gimmes and mulligans as a matter of course, and thinks nothing of picking up and moving his ball.

I am not surprised.

The Abe-Trump "summit golf" will be at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture. An exclusive establishment with many political and financial bigwigs among its members, it was requisitioned by the United States upon Japan's defeat in World War II and renamed the Johnson Air Force Base Golf Club, and no Japanese citizens were allowed to pass through the main entrance. A golf course under foreign occupation is a sad thing.

While I can appreciate Abe's intent to foster mutual trust with Trump through golf, playing together is certainly not in the same league as a proper summit.

On some issues, such as North Korea, global warming and U.S. bases in Okinawa, Abe should be no different from the leaders of Germany and France in telling Trump straight up what the deal is.

The United States is a superpower, but Japan cannot expect this summit to bear any fruit if Abe buckles to Trump's unreasonable demands and grants him gimmes and mulligans, so to speak.

Requiring heavy security and causing many inconveniences to the public at the taxpayers' expense, what is being planned is effectively a grand "settai" round of golf, which in business parlance means it aims to entertain as well as curry the client's favor.

If Abe goes ahead with all of this, I sincerely hope the result of the settai golf will help Japan overcome its "national crisis."

--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 2

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Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.