Country Reports

The spring of 2020 saw a downturn in Sino-Japanese relations, which were now embroiled in the pandemic war of words, with little else on the foreign policy radar. Some warnings about North Korea and Russia were heard, while wishful thinking about South Korea also appeared. Some raised the puzzle of why Abe’s poll numbers were falling even as Japan was controlling the pandemic comparatively well. Whereas 32 percent of Americans praise the US response to it, it was said only 5 percent of Japanese praise their country’s response. The Diamond Princess case created a negative first impression, which persisted despite a death rate comparable to New Zealand’s—hailed as a great success. One factor may have been pessimism about Japan’s economy that had begun earlier and a deepening sense that on all fronts Japanese foreign policy was being frustrated.

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