Trump invoked Pearl Harbor during tense meeting with Japanese prime minister: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBroward County official Brenda Snipes submits resignation after criticism Retired lieutenant general tears into Trump over attacks against Navy SEAL: 'Disgusting' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks MORE invoked the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor during a heated meeting earlier this year with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

"I remember Pearl Harbor," Trump, who was born 4 1/2 years after the attack, said, according to the newspaper, before railing against Japan's economic policies.

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The Post reported that Abe was "exasperated" by the remark. A Japanese diplomat told the newspaper that he was unsure why Trump brought up Pearl Harbor, but said the president has previously mentioned Japan's "samurai past."

Japanese officials told the Post that Abe typically waits until later in a conversation to respond to pointed comments from Trump, with one diplomat saying Abe knows it "might hurt the president's pride" if he directly refutes Trump.

The comments reportedly came during a June 7 meeting in which Trump and Abe discussed trade and North Korea. The two men met after Trump had imposed steep steel and aluminum tariffs on Japan and other U.S. allies, and just days before the U.S. president traveled to Singapore to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump has maintained a warm relationship with Abe since taking office in 2017, frequently referring to the Japanese leader as his "friend." The two men have golfed together on multiple occasions, and the president hosted the prime minister at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida earlier this year.

The two countries have been at odds over trade policy in recent months. Trump has threatened to impose tariffs of 25 percent on imports of autos from Europe and other nations, including Japan. 

Japan's trade minister, Hiroshige Seko, said last week that Tokyo might retaliate if Trump follows through with the tariffs.