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Despite much attention being paid to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s diplomacy and domestic reforms, his administration’s approach to Japan’s making of foreign policy has largely eluded examination. Meanwhile, his current, second prime ministership has marked a significant change in the decision-making process, with the bureaucracy’s traditionally strong clout being eroded.

The prime minister has come to exert more control over the Foreign Ministry through the Prime Minister’s Office (Kantei). As a result, the very source of Japanese diplomacy has shifted from the bureaucratic institutions to the Kantei, while foreign policy officials, previously largely responsible for crafting Japan’s international strategy, have rather been relegated to simply implementing the policies decided at the executive level.

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