A hard-line Iranian newspaper has printed a front page image showing the mushroom cloud of a nuclear blast, meant to criticize the Japanese prime minister's close ties with the U.S. ahead of his historic visit to Iran.
The daily Farheekhtegan, or Educated, followed it up with a large headline in both English and Farsi, saying: "How Can You Trust A War Criminal, Mr. Abe?"
The picture appeared to refer to America dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.
Hard-line news outlets in Iran immediately picked up the front page from the paper, published by students of Islamic Azad University, which has campuses across the nation.
On Wednesday, Abe will become the first Japanese prime minister to visit Iran since its 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Abe will arrive in Iran after an earlier meeting with President Donald Trump, whose maximalist approach toward the Islamic republic has seen America re-impose sanctions once lifted by the 2015 accord and create far-reaching newer ones. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will also visit Tehran this week.
- Trump, Japanese premier Abe discuss Iran in a phone conversation
- Iran prepares for week of high-stakes diplomacy with Japan, Germany
- Zarif urges Europe to 'normalize economic ties with Iran' or face consequences
What Abe will be able to accomplish remains unclear, as Iran already has warned Europe it will begin enrichment of uranium closer to weapons-grade levels by July 7 if it doesn't come up with new terms to the deal. It also comes as Japan tries to negotiate its own trade deals with Trump, who has been quick to impose tariffs on other nations.
But Abe, whose nation relies heavily on Mideast crude oil to power its economy, already has acknowledged the challenge.
"Between Japan and the United States, there should be close collaboration so that this tension surrounding Iran should be mitigated and alleviated, and it shouldn't culminate in armed conflict," Abe said in a May news conference with Trump in Tokyo.