Since taking office a year and a half ago, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has surprised many with the way he has taken on challenges of historic proportions.

After all, aside from belonging to the dovish wing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the public was largely unfamiliar with the unassuming politician’s beliefs and vision for Japan until he moved into the Prime Minister’s Office in October 2021. Far from having a reputation as a charismatic, prototypical leader, Kishida’s public persona was that of a soft and unimposing politician.

Yet on foreign policy, he has made momentous decisions that are regarded as departures from decades of policy. When Moscow sent tanks across its border to invade Ukraine last year, Kishida — in contrast to traditional Japanese foreign policy — was quick to rally behind international sanctions against Russia. More consequentially, the Kishida administration decided to double Japan's defense spending by 2027, along with other measures to enhance national security.