With new U.S. President Joe Biden, Washington’s Asian allies have a friendlier and more engaged partner in the Oval Office after four tumultuous years of “America First” under Donald Trump that left alliances crippled and neglected.
But the former U.S. vice president returns to a changed landscape both in Asia and at home after four years out of the White House, write Jesse Johnson and Satoshi Sugiyama. Can a Biden-led U.S. return to form in the region?
Biden has promised an aggressive and activist agenda for his first 10 days, with actions of both domestic and international import, but his priority will be attending to his nation’s ills, notes the JT Editorial Board. Given the challenges, Biden and the U.S. will need all the help they can get from allies such as Japan.
Stock traders, meanwhile, breathed a sigh of relief that the inauguration went off without any riots, sending U.S. markets to record highs and powering the Nikkei to its highest close since the collapse of the Japan’s bubble in the early 1990s.
So far, so good: Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has congratulated Biden by tweet and is eagerly awaiting their first phone call. Tokyo has appointed a new, Biden-friendly ambassador to the U.S. And business leaders in Japan are welcoming what they expect to be a return to a multilateral, less combative approach to trade.
Analysts, however, don’t expect it all to be smooth sailing. The new administration will continue to prioritize protecting U.S. jobs and industries, regardless of whether it opts to join the successor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as Japan hopes, or resumes “phase two” bilateral talks with Japan. Think “America First” on trade, but with a friendlier face, as Biden seeks to reboot the pandemic-hit U.S. economy.