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A man reads a newspaper on a street in Tokyo, 29 August 2020. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

How Japan will deal with China-US conflict and the Taiwan issue under the new Suga administration

Business cooperation will likely be a key theme of the China-Japan relationship under the new Suga administration, says Japanese academic Shin Kawashima. However, various challenges will continue to beset bilateral relations. All eyes are also on Nobuo Kishi, the new Defence Minister and Shinzō Abe’s younger brother, who has strong ties to Taiwan.
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 Shinzō 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?
Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (left, with mic) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe had a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 2019 ASEAN summit. (SPH)

Post-Abe: Japan-ASEAN partnership crucial in navigating great power rivalry

With Shinzō Abe's imminent departure from office, Japanese academic Mie Oba looks back at Japan-ASEAN diplomacy under his charge, and at the expansion of defence cooperation between Japan and certain Southeast Asian countries. She says Japanese partnership with ASEAN has become more important, as Japan and ASEAN continue to navigate the escalating rivalry between China and the US in the Indo-Pacific region.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend the first working session of the G20 Summit. (G20 OSAKA)

Four turning points: How Abe got China-Japan relations out of negative territory

Japanese academic Shin Kawashima examines the evolution of Japan-China relations in the eight years under the Abe administration, and concludes that though Abe helped to normalise Japan-China relations, the future development of bilateral relations remains unpredictable and more precarious. 
People walk past a giant screen showing a news footage of Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing a face mask, at a shopping area in Beijing, 31 July 2020. (Tingshu Wang/REUTERS)

Xi Jinping's possible visit to South Korea sparks speculations

Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Japan in March was postponed, but next on his list of possible destinations for an official visit might be South Korea. Following Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit in December 2019, Politburo member Yang Jiechi visited South Korea in late August, possibly paving the way for a visit by Xi. What does that mean for China's relations with South Korea and with Japan as tensions between China and the US continue to escalate?
People wearing protective face masks walk past a large screen broadcasting a news conference of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, Japan, 28 August 2020. (Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters)

Post-Abe: Japan's first-rate society will be ballast for stable China-Japan relations

Fears that the post-Abe era will mean Japan paying less attention to keeping China-Japan relations on an even keel are unfounded, says Japan-based academic Zhang Yun. Based on Japan’s one constant — social stability — Japanese society will react strongly if Japanese politics returns to the factional or closed-door politics of the past. Their sentiments will be the political compass guiding Japan’s policies. Hence now more than ever, it is in China’s interest to build strong social relations with the Japanese.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe is seen on a large screen during a live press conference in Tokyo on 28 August 2020, as he announced that he will resign over health problems.

The bleak future of China-Japan relations in post-Abe era

With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe announcing his resignation due to health reasons, it is difficult to say what China-Japan relations will be like in the post-Abe era under a new prime minister. But Zaobao correspondent Yu Zeyuan says one thing is clear: the outlook is not positive.
Fishermen pull in their fishing nets as the sun rises over the Mekong river in Phnom Penh on 9 June 2020. (Tang Chhin Sothy/AFP)

Major powers react to rising Chinese influence in Mekong

In recent years, the Mekong subregion has seen a renewed engagement of external powers, particularly the US, Japan, and South Korea, mainly due to the China factor. This re-enmeshment signifies an intense power competition in Southeast Asia, in light of China’s increasing economic and political clout. Thai academic Pongphisoot Busbarat cautions that Southeast Asian states need to send a clear signal to external powers that increasing cooperation with them does not equate to choosing sides.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend the first working session of the G20 Summit in Osaka, 28 June 2019. (G20 OSAKA)

Strong China-Japan relations a fantasy in a divisive world: Will ASEAN benefit?

Since the coronavirus pandamic hit, Japan has been trying to reduce an overdependence on China vis-à-vis its supply chains. But this is by no means a sign that it wants to decouple from the Chinese economy. Several Japanese firms in fact have the intention to expand their operations in China. However, the geopolitical situation and other factors have meant a sharp deterioration in bilateral relations including the stalling of a planned state visit by President Xi Jinping. International politics professor David Arase opines that even with the best of intentions and efforts, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe would find it difficult to maintain meaningful relations with China in a divisive world. Closer Japan-ASEAN ties may be one of the upsides out of the chaos.