Trump said his relationship with Abe got off to a "rocky start," after Abe insisted on visiting Trump as soon as he was elected, but before he took office.
"He said to me, 'congratulations I would like to see you,'" Trump said at a state dinner with Abe in Japan Monday.
"And I said, 'anytime you want,' but I was referring to after January 20", Trump said. Trump said Sarah Sanders, now White House press secretary, and Hope Hicks, now White House communications director, warned the meeting would be "inappropriate" with President Obama still in office.
Trump said he called Abe to warn against the visit, but Abe was already on the plane.
"I said, there's no way he lands and I don't see him," Trump recalled. "I saw him and it worked out just fine."
"You have a very aggressive strong tough Prime Minister," Trump said. "That's a good thing, not a bad thing."
CNN reported over the weekend that Trump and Abe now have a "bromance," and that the two golfed over the weekend.
Abe called it "golf diplomacy," and said they made everything public about the golf match on Sunday "except for the scores."