Country Reports

The last part of 2018 was marked by the hopeful aftermath of the Abe-Xi summit and the new push by Abe and Putin to resolve the long-lingering dispute between Tokyo and Moscow. These themes are covered separately in an Open Forum article. Below, attention is directed at the less positive coverage of Japan’s relations with North and South Korea and at the efforts by Abe to bring to fruition his idea, joined by the United States, of a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific.” The shadow of Trump’s (and Pence’s) increasingly stark vision of Sino-US relations was clearly seen in media coverage as well. This was a time when Japanese media searched for a silver-lining even as the behavior of Trump grew more ominous, the Korean Peninsula appeared more problematic, and the annual meetings of the East Asian Summit and ASEAN lacked their past promise of the presence of the US president and trade liberalism apart from Japan’s reconstituted TPP-2.

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