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Asia's Game of Thrones
Japanese Activism Goes Global

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is on a five-nation tour of Latin America and the Caribbean, and his efforts are bearing fruit. On Saturday, he signed a lucrative energy deal with Mexico, and he is currently hammering out another major energy deal to develop and extract Colombia’s natural resources. The Japan Times reports:

Japanese and Colombian leaders are expected to agree Tuesday that the countries will cooperate in promoting Japanese investment in developing the Latin American country’s natural resources, a Japanese delegation source said Sunday. […]

With the agreement on developing Colombia’s abundant natural resources such as oil and coal, that nation could become the second-largest base for Japanese companies in South America after Brazil, a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official said.

Abe’s activity is not limited to the western hemisphere. Japan, galvanized by the downing of MH17, is also taking a harder line on Russia. The New York Times has the story:

Japan is imposing more sanctions against Russia over its support for pro-Moscow rebels in Ukraine who are accused of shooting down a Malaysian jet, the chief government spokesman said Monday.

The sanctions include the freezing of assets held in Japan by individuals and groups supporting the separation of Crimea from Ukraine, as well as restrictions on imports from Crimea, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

The newfound Japanese foreign policy activism is spurred by the desire to counter China’s rise. The nations Abe is visiting on his American tour are conspicuously U.S.-allied, and the energy deals come on the heels of much-vaunted Chinese deals with non-U.S.-allied Venezuela and Cuba. Similarly, Japan’s new Russia sanctions follow signs of closer cooperation between Beijing and Moscow.

As China tries to establish itself as a global great power, there are many signs that the critical Japan-U.S. alliance with continue to grow stronger and to acquire new dimensions. In Africa, Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere, look out for Japan trying to counterbalance China’s surge.

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  • Bankotsu

    But Japan is pivoting to U.S. backyard, how can that be good for the U.S.? I don’t understand.

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