Japan watched with trepidation on Wednesday as the United States edged toward an electoral crisis, with the future direction of bilateral ties hinging on an unexpectedly close race for the White House.

The Japanese government refrained from actively commenting on the election, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato hesitant to elaborate on the race during a news conference. Asked when Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga might send a congratulatory message to the contest's winner, Kato refused to answer.

“Countries around the world are highly interested in the election,” he said Wednesday. “The Japanese government will continue to monitor the outcome and its potential implications with keen interest.”