Japan Economic Currents

Abe Foreign Policy: A Good Start but Challenges Ahead

Let us imagine that Chinese and Japanese foreign policy specialists were asked in late summer 2006 to predict the chances that the following would happen within six months:

  • Prime Minister Abe Shinzo would visit both Beijing and Seoul within two weeks of taking office, without explicitly declaring his intentions concerning Yasukuni Shrine;
  • Mr. Abe would meet again with Chinese President Hu Jintao and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in January at the East Asian Summit;
  • The three countries would collaborate effectively on the North Korean issue;
  • Military-to-military relations between Japan and China would resume by the end of 2006;
  • The "history issue" would no longer preoccupy bilateral relations;
  • A visit by PRC Premier Wen Jiabao would be planned for April 2007 and that China would have extended an invitation for Mr. Abe to visit China later in the year (again without an explicit Yasukuni commitment).