Country Reports

The end of 2020 and beginning of 2021 saw Japan in a wait-and-see mood: knowing that Joe Biden would be the US president and that Suga Yoshihide would sustain the legacy of Abe Shinzo, but unsure what Biden’s approach would be on the most sensitive issues or whether there would be the right kind of personal chemistry between the two leaders, which is viewed as vital in Japan. Fear of abandonment was felt—over US prioritizing deals with China as on climate change on the one hand, and over US weakness on the Senkaku Islands and Taiwan on the other. But even more concern was mounting over the prospect of entrapment by the US demanding Japan to take a harder line against China, which would entail disastrous economic implications. Many in the administration were familiar figures, and statements were largely reassuring, but that did not stop anxieties—from the right of abandonment and from the left of entrapment.

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