Japan is hedging against political uncertainties in the United States. Only two weeks after the White House rolled out the red carpet for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Washington, the deputy head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Taro Aso, met with Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York.

Being feted by one presidential candidate only to fraternize with his opponent may go against diplomatic protocol. But Japan is taking a systematic approach to hedging against longer-term uncertainties beyond the U.S. presidential election in November.

Kishida's trip to North Carolina following his address to the U.S. Congress is a case in point. While the first state visit to the U.S. by a Japanese leader in nearly a decade focused on reaffirming America's global leadership and tackling shared security threats, Kishida's strategic stop in the Tar Heel State may ultimately prove more consequential for deepening the two countries' alliance in this era of great power competition.