As the world casts a wary eye on China's rapid and aggressive expansion in the seas to its east and south, Shinzo Abe, who does little to hide his ambition of rallying the world to a ring of containment around China, is pursuing an active program of diplomacy that has been unusually wide-ranging.

Although the prime minister's outreach has had its successes, there is scope for debate as to whether his diplomacy has been as successful as the Japanese media tend to portray it. Overall, it is not clear whether those countries Abe has courted are entirely won over to his grandiose design of a "ring of democracies" encircling Communist China. (Never mind that not all of these partners are exemplary "democracies" themselves.) In fact, many of them appear to be only too happy to benefit from the rivalry between the world's second- and third-largest economies.

Besides, as long as Japan's sticks to its traditional allegiance to the United States, Abe's diplomatic overtures, however active, will inevitably be seen as a proxy of American interests.