Country Reports

Setting aside the rush of publications on China and North Korea—from Abe’s October visit to China to Japan’s response to plans for a new Trump-Kim summit—this report covers Russia, South Korea, Taiwan, Southeast Asia, and India. The time span is the summer of 2018. Late in this period, Abe saw Putin surprise him with an unwelcome and even rude proposal on their bilateral dispute, made little headway in Japan’s marginalization in dealing with North Korea and building trust with South Korea, and failed to escape the shadow of Trump’s unilateralism in Asia with trade threats that obliged Abe to enter into bilateral talks as he remained nervous about the spillover from a US-China trade war. This was a difficult period for Japanese foreign policy, raising questions on whether it is really a great power, when it has been left only a bystander on matters all around its borders.

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