Recklessly, I undertook three self-imposed “forced marches” abroad in September — visiting Hong Kong for less than 48 hours, Seoul for just 30 hours two weeks later and then a 48-hour stay in Palo Alto, California, because something very important was happening in the rest of the world.

It was hectic, but intensive one-on-one conversations with overseas intellectuals have always help me think more deeply about international affairs. This time the short trips in a period of just three weeks helped me realize what would be the best foreign policy for Tokyo in the years to come.

When it comes to deep thinking, shallow analyses or easy propositions on day-to-day specific developments are insufficient and counterproductive. What you really need is to have the right perspective to feel the general directions or historical trends of issues.