When invited to a private Sunday lunch on Oct. 4, I never dreamt I would soon be advising him on foreign policy. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, to my great surprise, appointed me on Oct. 13, together with five other experts, as a special adviser to his Cabinet. With that said, I will still be myself and my contrarian writing style will not change.

It was at the Prime Minister’s Office where I learned Suga had publicly spoke of his planned visits to Vietnam and Indonesia next week. During his first official trip overseas as prime minister, Suga is reportedly scheduled to meet with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Japanese and foreign journalists started speculating as to why Suga would visit those two nations in his first official tour abroad? Why not start with Washington, Beijing or Seoul? How significant is his first overseas trip and how successful will it be? Although I have no inside information that allows me to answer those questions with complete accuracy, here are some of my personal observations.