Suga to maintain Japan’s China policy

AS anticipated, Yoshihide Suga won the election for the leadership of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) on Monday afternoon. He defeated Fumio Kishida and Shigeru Ishiba by a landslide victory. Since the LDP is Japan’s ruling party, it means Suga will be Japan’s new prime minister in two days, succeeding Shinzo Abe. The 71-year-old Suga has served as Abe’s chief cabinet secretary for nearly eight years. He was with Abe throughout Abe’s second term. After becoming the new prime minister, Suga’s mission, perhaps, might be just that of a caretaker. Abe still has one year left in his tenure. During this period, Suga is widely believed to carry on Abe’s policies. Some analysts believe Suga may dissolve parliament and hold elections ahead of schedule. If he succeeds, he will gain more political room. Before the election on Monday, the three candidates held a debate on their governing plans, and that of Suga’s seems to be the steadiest and firmest. But they offered little flexibility in their China policies. Japan’s ensuing attitude toward China has already been fixed, given the general trend of China-US relations and Japan’s national interests. Tokyo will focus on the Japan-US alliance and simultaneously develop its ties with Beijing, in a bid to maximize its own interests.
While the US is Japan’s sole ally, China is Japan’s biggest trading partner. As long as there is no real risk for a war between China and Japan, Japan will not completely lean toward the US to coordinate with the latter’s strategic suppression on China. In the foreseeable future, China should not count on “wooing” Japan over to its side. While Japan will stick to its alliance with the US, it will try to curry favor from both China and the US.
The strategic framework of China-Japan relations will remain unchanged, although it may be affected by concrete issues in different periods. Suga said China and Japan have many problems which need to be fixed one by one. For China, the risks in bilateral relations lie in that opportunism may emerge in Japan. Some Japanese forces may overestimate Japan’s bargaining power with China from tense China-US relations, and take an aggressive approach on multiple issues, which will make it difficult to solve or manage them.
The US is trying its best to get its allies to gang up against China. This will also have an impact on Japan. For example, Japan values the Chinese market, but it is also interacting with the US, Australia and India to promote the de-Sinicization of the supply chain.
While China and Japan are seeking generally stable ties and maintaining the status quo, there is also a possibility that the two countries’ differences will slowly widen.
– Global Times