Xi Cheers, Washington Weeps: Japan’s New Era is Asia’s, Too

Since 2012, Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and China’s authoritarian leader, Xi Jinping, have been fencing with each other throughout Asia and beyond. Under Abe, Japan not only embarked on its boldest, if incomplete, economic reforms, it also embraced a far larger and more active role on the global stage, built up its military, and threw away decades of self-imposed restraints.

Abe just announced his resignation, and Japan’s next leader will face a truculent and increasingly aggressive China, along with a frightfully unknowable North Korea that has come close to perfecting its nuclear and missile programs. Despite closer relations among the Indo-Pacific’s democracies, especially Japan, India, and Australia, any backsliding by Tokyo under a new leader would embolden Xi and Kim Jong-un.

What does it all mean? I discuss Abe’s legacy and the implications of his resignation on my Hoover Institution podcast, The Pacific Century, which I cohost with NR regular (and recently published author) John Yoo. Amid discussing the finer points of Asian cuisine, John and I regularly interview a fascinating roster of Asian leaders, including Japan’s defense minister and Taiwan’s foreign minister, the Trump administration’s top Asia diplomat, leading Asia scholars, and even a persecuted beauty queen-cum-human-rights activist, among many others.

If you’re interested in the vast Indo-Pacific, from India to Japan and everything in between, please check out the podcast. For those wanting a deeper dive into the Indo-Pacific, my new book, Asia’s New Geopolitics, offers eight essays on how the world’s most dynamic region is changing. One thing’s for certain: Whoever wins the presidential election in November will have Asia at the top of their foreign-policy list, and probably not for good reasons.

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