The bar is set low for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s April 29 speech at a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage says everyone will be “looking to see if Mr. Abe can put history behind him.” In his view, the key is speaking sincerely rather than repeating specific words.

The odds are thus stacked in the prime minister’s favor, as Washington is pleased that Abe is positioning Japan to become America’s deputy sheriff in the region, and is eager for Japan to join the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). In matters of security and trade, the threat from China is driving U.S. policy in Asia, and on this Japan is a valued ally.

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