In his new year resolutions, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised that Japan would play a greater role as a mover and shaper of global affairs. This is good; but if Japan is to be a successful player on the world stage, it needs vigorously and rigorously to rethink exactly how and where it should put its energies and money. One basic problem is the glaring contradiction between Japan's global aspirations and Abe's own narrow view of the world.

Successive Japanese governments, including the current one, have fallen asleep in protecting the interests of the Japanese people, in small things and in large.

Where is the Japanese voice at big international gatherings, including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and ministerial gatherings of global bodies, especially the Group of Seven? Abe has helped to raise the country's profile by his tireless traveling to meet other world leaders and promote Japan. But he is a one-man band.