Then-U.S. President Donald Trump and then-Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hold up hats reading “Donald and Shinzo, Make Alliance Even Greater” in Kawagoe, Japan, Nov. 5, 2017 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).
The assassination of Abe Shinzo last week left the world in shock. As Japan’s longest-serving prime minister—having held office from 2006 to 2007 and again from 2012 until 2020—Abe left an indelible and controversial impact on Japanese politics and policy. This was particularly the case in foreign policy. Though he was never able to successfully revise Japan’s pacifist postwar constitution, he did move Japan along the path toward becoming a “normal country,” that is, one able to pursue its interests through all available means, including military force. But one of Abe’s greatest accomplishments, at least in the realm of international [...]
Chinese soldiers look at photographs of survivors of the Nanjing Massacre at the National Museum of China in Beijing, Aug. 12, 2005 (AP photo by Elizabeth Dalziel).
To prominent Asia watchers and policymakers, making sense of the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has involved going beyond the man himself to reflect on the politics of the Asia he envisioned. In practice, that means that not only has Abe the man been mourned, but his legacy lauded, too. Matt Pottinger, the former White House coordinator for Asia policy under then-U.S. President Donald Trump, summed up the general sentiment in an op-ed that described Abe as having popularized the idea of a “free and open Indo-Pacific” among regional states wary of China’s rise, turning it into a unifying [...]
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, U.S. President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the launch event for the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, in Tokyo, May 23, 2022 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).
Just before the White House launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, or IPEF, in Tokyo last month, Taro Kono, the former Japanese foreign and defense minister, offered a blunt recommendation: Deriding the IPEF as the “Indo-Pacific Economic whatever,” Kono urged the U.S. to “forget” it and rejoin the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. During his press conference with U.S. President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida welcomed the IPEF but echoed Kono’s advice, stressing the strategic significance of a U.S. return to the CPTPP, which is essentially the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact that then-President Barack Obama effectively [...]
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