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In order for the United States to successfully maintain its presence and influence, as well as to mitigate growing risk, working with its allies is more important than ever. At the top of that list is Japan, Asia’s most powerful democracy. Yet Japan continues to struggle with economic reform and in attempting to forge closer relations with its Asian neighbors. Given Japan’s importance to Asia’s future path, the following are some of the top questions every presidential candidate should be asked.
Inefficiencies in America’s trade sector are political issues as well as economic, leading to higher prices, longer wait times on supply chains, and foregone opportunity. Meanwhile, Asian countries continue to invest in port improvements and expansion, drawing to themselves ever larger volumes of trade. Increasing trade with Japan through a free trade area will do little good if exports and imports are clogged up dockside in the United States.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is steadily changing the nature of Japan’s security activities. He is making it more likely that an expanded Japanese security presence in Asia, through partnering with smaller nations and more tightly working with formal allies, will evolve over the coming decades. That will help stabilize the balance of power in Asia, and make Japan more of a partner of choice for countries worried about China’s growing influence and power.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that Japan’s Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives would no longer have the right to audit cooperative farms, which has been a tool to prevent cooperatives from flexibly responding to market incentives, and that the union would also be turned into a general, not government-protected, association.
The lesson of Yukawa’s death, rather, should be that liberal nations face a choice: whether to do what they can to battle growing disorder in the world, or to try and hide. The Japanese public should think about what kind of global role will best serve their interests in the Middle East, as well as in Asia.