Sahashi Ryo

Sahashi Ryo

Associate Professor of International Relations, Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo

Ryo Sahashi is an associate professor of international relations at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, the University of Tokyo. Dr. Sahashi specialises in international politics in East Asia. He serves as a research fellow at the Japan Center for International Exchange and has been a visiting associate professor at Walter H. Shorenstein Asia Pacific Research Center, Stanford University. He received his B.A. from International Christian University and his Ph.D. from the Graduate Schools for Law and Politics at the University of Tokyo.

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (centre) attends the opening ceremony of an extraordinary session of the Diet, the country's parliament, at the National Diet building in Tokyo on 3 August 2022. (Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP)

The delicate balance of Japan-China relations and Japan-Taiwan relations

As the situation in the Taiwan Strait develops, Japan needs to navigate relations with mainland China and Taiwan, while also keeping in mind the role of the US as well as its own interests. Japanese academic Sahashi Ryo examines Japan's options and how it will acquit itself. He notes that Japan is now firmly in an age where the Japan-China and Japan-US relationships must always be considered together.
Pedestrians are silhouetted against a large public video screen showing an image of former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in the Akihabara district of Tokyo on 8 July 2022, after he was shot and killed in the city of Nara. (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP)

Kishida will pick up the baton of Shinzo Abe's dream

Abe’s major accomplishments are in his diplomacy and security policies, and these are the areas that will be highlighted when history passes judgement on him. PM Fumio Kishida has every reason to pick up where Abe left off, seeking to expand this grand vision of the Indo-Pacific and keep the unreliable US in check, but the biggest obstacle will be establishing a consensus within the ruling party.
Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida welcomes US President Joe Biden at the entrance hall of the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan in Tokyo, Japan, 24 May 2022. (Zhang Xiaoyu/Pool via Reuters)

Biden’s Asia tour: US deepening its commitments to counter China

US President Joe Biden's recent visit to Asia was made with China in mind, as he met with Quad partners South Korea, Japan, Australia and India, and launched the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). At the very least, says Japanese academic Ryo Sahashi, the visit signals that the US is keen on setting the rules in the region and keeping a firm security presence especially vis-à-vis the Taiwan Strait.
US President Joe Biden convening the virtual Summit for Democracy at the White House, in Washington, US, 9 December 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

Japanese academic: Summit for Democracy showed weakness of Biden’s diplomacy

Japanese academic Sahashi Ryo notes that the US-led Summit for Democracy met with a lukewarm response in Asia because it smacked of the US trying to impose its ideas on other nations. Not only that, given the Biden administration’s poor listening skills, their talk of valuing partnerships with allied countries rings hollow.
US President Joe Biden speaks to reporters before boarding Air Force One to depart Capital Region International Airport in Lansing, Michigan, US, 5 October 2021. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Japanese academic: US moving away from ASEAN centrality to defend its regional interests

With AUKUS and the Quad, Japanese academic Sahashi Ryo argues that the US is seeking to distance itself from the region’s ASEAN-centric mechanisms, despite assurances to the contrary. While both the US and China are working hard to make their presence felt in the region, Ryo says someone is acting out of undue haste and probably needs more time to figure out how to create its desired world order under mounting competition.
A protester takes a moment while speaking to the crowd as they march through Hollywood during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody, in Los Angeles, California, June 2, 2020. - Anti-racism protests have put several US cities under curfew to suppress rioting, following the death of George Floyd in police custody. (Kyle Grillot/AFP)

Japanese academic: If US diplomacy lacks a strong base, how can it demonstrate true leadership?

Japanese academic Sahashi Ryo notes that with Biden taking office, the US needs to look at the changing needs of diplomacy and rebuild international relationships, and figure out how to negotiate its ties with China.
Yoshihide Suga gestures as he is elected as new head of the ruling party at the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) leadership election paving the way for him to replace Shinzo Abe, in Tokyo, 14 September 2020. (Kyodo via REUTERS)

Japan's foreign policy under Yoshihide Suga: Countering chaos with pragmatism

Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has been confirmed as Japan’s incoming prime minister, following a vote in parliament today. What would his foreign policy priorities be as prime minister?
US President Donald Trump (L) and US Vice President Mike Pence return to the Oval Office after a press conference on the coronavirus at the White House in Washington, DC, April 27, 2020. (Mandel Ngan/AFP)

Covid-19: A leaderless age is fast approaching

Like scales falling from their eyes, the international community is seeing how a dearth of global leadership has left countries flailing for themselves since the onset of the pandemic. Who or what will step forward and take up the leadership mantle? Not the US, and not China either.
China and the US have reached a "phase one" trade deal. Will it be enough to end the trade war? (Kevin Lamarque/REUTERS)

Low-hanging fruit: The “phase one” trade deal

By all accounts, the “phase one” deal concluded between the US and China is a small one. Will this token gesture be enough to change US-China relations drastically in 2020? Prof Sahashi Ryo gives his take from Japan.