HONOLULU — There is no mistaking Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s determination to transform Japan’s foreign and security policies, and reassert itself in the world. Yet while he must seize opportunities as he forges this new role, he must also reassure doubters both at home and abroad that Japan will act responsibly, and that its new power and influence will be put to good use. That requires a vision of Japanese power and a strategy to use it. While the primary burden is Tokyo’s, the United States, as its ally and partner, can play an important role in this effort.
Abe has pushed this “transformative” agenda since becoming prime minister. Upon settling into his new post, he visited Beijing and Seoul in an attempt to reverse Japan’s deteriorating relationship with its two neighbors. In addition to his willingness to reach out to these key partners, the fact that his first overseas trip was to these two countries signaled a new priority in Japanese foreign policy.
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