Seven years and over 80 overseas visits later, Abe has no tangible foreign policy achievements and there is little prospect of this reality changing.
For Yuki Tatsumi's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Tokyo and Seoul should consider who will be the losers and more importantly, who will be the winners, from a prolonged division in the bilateral relationship?
Now that the U.S. has exhausted what it usually considers its ultimate diplomatic mean — a summit with the its president — how to move forward from this point on will be uncertain at best.
If left unattended, the strained bilateral relationship has the potential to fundamentally undermine the U.S. alliance system on which Tokyo and Seoul depend for their security and prosperity.
Abe must tread carefully between maintaining Japan's diplomatic momentum with Russia while not appearing to acquiesce its international behavior elsewhere.
The lack of an LDP heir apparent and the absence of a credible opposition force means that Japan may face a leadership vacuum when Abe's tenure ends.
The idea that North Korea's denuclearization can be implemented without Japan's involvement is completely misguided.
Japan's singular focus on the abductee issue is marginalizing Tokyo in the current round of North Korea diplomacy.
The next few weeks will be critical for Japan, as it will be profoundly affected by the outcome of the Trump-Kim meeting even though it will only have a limited direct influence on the developments on the Korean Peninsula.
Tokyo may not be able to directly influence the peace process, but it can still make its voice count.