Country Reports

The October issue of Bungei Shunju traced Abe’s trajectory as prime minister. It noted his persistent interest in Japan playing a leading global role, keeping US ties as the foundation of foreign policy while strengthening relations with other countries including China and Russia. In 2014, China was the target, as Abe sought a first meeting with Xi at APEC in Beijing. The tricky war anniversary year of 2015 was navigated well, and preparations for an eventful 2016 began: hosting the G7, strengthening ties with Obama at Hiroshima and Pearl Harbor, and, unexpectedly, hurrying to set relations with Trump on a positive course, while also aiming for a breakthrough with Putin. If the year ended with ominous clouds hanging over Abe’s foreign policy—Trump being an uncertain force, Putin taking a tougher posture, and North Korea emerging as a greater danger—Abe doubled down on realist policies in 2017. He sought to keep Trump close—to coordinate on China and Russia—sustain ties with Putin, and improve those with Xi with promise of cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

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