This year's U.S. presidential election could serve as an existential shock that Japanese politics may desperately need to revitalize itself, forcing a generational change in political leadership that is long overdue.
For Yuki Tatsumi's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
2020 promises to be a challenging year for Abe as Japan's top diplomat.
A series of external and internal challenges await the nation, and the years ahead looking anything but hopeful.
By continuing to freeze the bilateral relationship, the two countries prevent themselves from pursuing policy issues that are critical to their futures, including the endgame for the denuclearization of North Korea.
Seven years and over 80 overseas visits later, Abe has no tangible foreign policy achievements and there is little prospect of this reality changing.
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.