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What a difference seven short years makes when it comes to Cabinet policies. After reading Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s major policy speech on Japan-ASEAN relations delivered yesterday in Hanoi, it felt like it came from a different age when comparing the speech to the one made on the same topic by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Singapore in July 2013.

Seven year ago, Abe, in his famously long and eloquent speech titled “Japan and ASEAN, Always in Tandem,” dedicated only one sentence to China’s maritime activities, saying “I am delighted that ASEAN and Japan have gone beyond their economic relations to forge a relationship that takes on responsibility for the security of the region, particularly freedom of navigation on the seas.”

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