While they were on the green at the swanky Kasumi Country Club on Sunday, Abe fell into a bunker and performed a ninja-like stunt — all without Trump’s knowledge.
The Japanese prime minister, dressed in a white sweater, had just hit his ball out of the sand and was running up out of the bunker. But when he got up onto the grass, he apparently lost his balance and rolled backward into the sandy hole. An aide quickly rushed to help the prime minister.
But Trump was already walking off and had his back to Abe, and apparently remained oblivious to his golf buddy’s gymnastics in the bunker behind him.
Lucky for the Internet, however, a Japanese television network that had sent helicopters into the sky caught the whole thing on camera.
The video quickly went viral in Japan.
“I saw that PM Abe did a backward roll and fell as he was getting out of a bunker. It’s not that I support him and am trying to say favorable things about him, but that was a beautiful way to fall,” wrote a Twitter user with the handle @forownway.
Others saw this as a sign of the lopsided nature of the relationship.
“Abe was ignored when he fell over backwards. He served Trump a lot of delicious food but in return all he got was being forced to promise to buy more weapons,” wrote @iampeppar on Twitter. “Furthermore, Trump ignored all of Abe’s tweets. Trump doesn’t even follow Abe on Twitter. And you call this best friend LOL?”
Litera, a tabloid news website, called Trump’s lack of reaction to Abe’s misstep “miserable.”
“We thought Trump, realizing he fell, would rush to prime minister Abe and say something like: ‘Oh my gosh! Shinzo, are you OK?’ and give him a hand, but there was nothing of the kind,” the website wrote — perhaps unfairly given that Trump genuinely did not seem to see the spill.
“He didn’t even take a look at Abe, dirty with sand all over him, and just walked ahead quickly. Abe, trying not to get behind, didn’t even bother to take the sand off and followed Trump’s back frantically,” the site wrote.
Abe, who gave Trump a gold-tipped golf club during their first meeting in November and then played 27 holes with the new president at Mar-a-Lago in February, had reportedly been practicing ahead of their latest game.
But Abe has always remained tight-lipped about the score, joking that it was a matter of national security.
Still, Nikkan Gendai, a best-selling tabloid, wrote that Abe’s golf diplomacy was a “major failure” as the pair had very few conversations on the golf course.
“Abe often ended up playing alone while Trump walked with and chatted to Hideki Matsuyama,” Gendai wrote, referring to the pro golfer who played with them.
Yuki Oda contributed to this report.