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How Kishida’s disappearing Japanese premiership is a gift to China

Not much has been going President Xi Jinping’s way so far this year. China’s economy stumbled out of the gate. Stocks have been plunging. Deflation is deepening. And Evergrande is trending as a search term again. But leave it to Japan to offer Xi a win.

Unsurprisingly, Japanese voters are in a foul mood. New year, same old political complacency and indifference. The latest financial scandals have exacerbated the perception that Japan’s political system only serves itself.


Prime Minister Fumio Kishida offers tax cuts to help Japanese households ride out inflation

Kishida’s bond with Biden is on a more equal footing, aimed at everything from supporting Taiwan and Ukraine to curbing Beijing’s access to vital technology. Yet what is this partnership worth as Kishida recedes into irrelevance?


Japan’s economy contracts by 2.1% amid high inflation after strong post-Covid recovery

“To the extent that a vibrant, technologically advanced Japan plays a heavier role in the region via its companies, FDI [foreign direct investment], and assorted free-trade agreements, an improved balance of economic power may limit what China can do and increase the possibility of Beijing returning to something closer to its past stance of a ‘peaceful rise’,” Richard Katz writes in his new book The Contest for Japan’s Economic Future. “So far, Japan’s economic travails have reduced its influence in Asia, and hence its ability to act as a counterweight to China.”

Consider this window closed. Kishida has virtually zero political capital to prod change-averse lawmakers to rekindle entrepreneurship and productivity, slash bureaucracy, catalyse a start-up boom, empower women or reposition Tokyo as an Asian financial centre with which to be reckoned.