Japan-US relations

A button featuring President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris' inauguration is on display by a street vendor in Eatonton, Georgia, 2 January 2021. (Alex Wong/AFP)

Japanese academic: The Chinese and Japanese differ in their perceptions of Biden's China policy

With US President-elect Joe Biden poised to take office in a week, Japanese academic Shin Kawashima compares how China and Japan view the incoming administration, and how their differing views may impact on foreign relations and geopolitics.
Admiral Philip S. Davidson, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command meets with Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga during his courtesy call at the prime minister's office in Tokyo, 22 October 2020. (Kyodo via REUTERS)

A leaders' word game: 'Secure and prosperous' vs 'free and open' Indo-Pacific

With the incoming Biden administration using the term "secure and prosperous" in place of "free and open" to refer to the Indo-Pacific, Japanese academic Shin Kawashima explores what this might mean for the future of the region and the roles played by Japan, China, and the US.
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.
A news report on Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech in the city of Shenzhen is shown on a public screen in Hong Kong, China, on 14 October 2020. (Roy Liu/Bloomberg)

Quad: Containing China should not be the raison d’être for any grouping

When asked in a recent interview to comment on the joint push for a "free and open Indo-Pacific" and whether it was realistic to formalise such an institution, former US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he would like a coalition in the Asia-Pacific and the Indo-Pacific but not a coalition against something. His view is markedly different from that of many Trump officials, and is similar to that of Japan and many countries in Southeast Asia.
A mining/crushing supervisor at MP Materials displays crushed ore before it is sent to the mill at the MP Materials rare earth mine in Mountain Pass, California, 30 January 2020. (Steve Marcus/File Photo/Reuters)

How to break China's monopoly on rare earths

Much attention has been focused on the burgeoning US-China tech war and the US’s suppression of Chinese companies. But less is known about China’s firm hold on the rare earths supply chain, which has the potential to derail the world’s production of products from the humble smartphone to F-35 aircraft and guided missile systems. In response, the US and its allies, including the EU, Japan and Australia, are actively coalescing around new rare earths strategies. But private investment alone will not be enough to challenge China’s global monopoly in rare earths. Can new international public-private partnerships be the answer?
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is seen on a large screen during a live press conference in Tokyo on 28 August 2020. (Philip Fong/AFP)

Shinzō Abe's second term: Was Abe pro-China? Should the Chinese miss him?

Entering his second term in 2012,  Shinzō Abe immaculately repackaged his image in a bid to shed some of the baggage from his first 2006-2007 term, says academic Toh Lam Seng. But Abe was still the man he was before — a descendant of Nobusuke Kishi, the “Yokai (i.e., monster or goblin) of the Showa era”, and a hawkish politician focused on amending Japan’s peace constitution. There was never a pro-China Abe as portrayed by the media. Now with his younger brother Nobuo Kishi coming into the spotlight in the new Cabinet, it looks like the political bloodline of the “Yokai of the Showa era” will continue on and have an impact on Japan’s policies. 
Japan's prime minister-in-waiting Shinzo Abe (right) smiles with newly appointed Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa (centre) and General Council Chairman Yuya Niwa of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party at a party executive meeting in Tokyo, 25 September 2006. (Toshiyuki Aizawa/File Photo/Reuters)

Shinzō Abe's first term: A princeling's attempt to rewrite World War II history

Looking back on politician Shinzō Abe’s career, academic Toh Lam Seng asserts that the greatest driving force of Abe, the “pampered princeling”, was his maternal grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. When Abe became prime minister for the first time in 2006, he was preoccupied with changing Japan’s peace constitution and establishing a new take on Japan’s war history that his grandfather was a large part of. Several hawkish policies followed but his single-minded pursuit and unpopular Cabinet soon led to his departure.
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?
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?