The publisher is president for the asia pacific initiative, a think-tank, and former editor of this asahi shimbun

As shinzo abe steps straight down after eight years as japanese prime minister, the main focus home is on who will succeed him.

The governing liberal democratic party tend to be evaluating three applicants, with yoshihide suga, the current primary case secretary, in pole position. under mr suga, japan may possibly see a continuation of mr abes guidelines. but anyone who is chosen to be another leader, their particular most important high quality would be diplomatic prowess. because regard, mr abe had been excellent. his history will likely be accurate documentation of achieved diplomacy.

The deterioration of us-china relations within the last ten years pushed mr abe to do a balancing act between your two superpowers. his objective was to protect both japans alliance using us, which continues to be the foundation of nationwide security, as well as its trade with china, which presents 20 per cent of japans total exports.

Mr abe learnt in the beginning the importance of keeping a sturdy alliance with the united states, something the preceding administration had not constantly was able to do. starting in 2010, asia, russia and south korea all tested japans resolve in defending its sovereignty in disputed territories with intrusions of vessels or visits to such areas by minds of condition.

Whenever mr abe took power in 2012 he sought to expand japans part in regional and international protection to bolster relations aided by the united states, an attempt that culminated in previous us president barack obamas trip to hiroshima in 2016 and mr abes reciprocal day at pearl harbor. with president donald trump, he bonded over rounds of golf and other shows of camaraderie.

With chinese president xi jinping, who took power the thirty days before mr abe, mending walls turned into even more difficult. but mr xis in the offing condition visit to japan in april, though postponed considering covid-19, suggested a warming relationship, as did the rhetoric about the nations being endless neighbours at a summit involving the frontrunners in osaka this past year. there are also setbacks, perhaps not the very least the failure to eliminate a territorial dispute with russia, which mr abe singled-out as a regret upon their resignation.

Just what classes are there any for mr abes successor inside cautious international plan position? very first, japan probably will come to be a far more separate, however totally trusted, american ally. due to the fact us develops a long-term strategy to take on china, a far more resilient japan are a helpful lover. as well, asia also southeast asian countries welcome an even more confident japan as a proactive and stabilising local impact.

Among mr abes significant achievements ended up being the forging regarding the bold trans-pacific partnership agreement as well as its subsequent reinvention after mr trump summarily pulled the us from the offer. the decision to reconstruct the agreement because the comprehensive and advanced contract for trans-pacific partnership, with all the original signatories bar america, showed exactly what japan could achieve individually.

Second, difficult realism is essential for dealing with asia in the future. the method must certanly be among coexistence and competitors, which can be language asia knows. mr abe, a pragmatist, skilfully side-stepped the ideological battle between the united states and asia. and asia has actually seemed to value this plan with a show of respect.

Finally, mr abe has taken the middle ground in domestic politics while reining in nationalist causes and preventing divisive populism from appearing. in 2015, from the 70th anniversary associated with end of the 2nd world war, he recognized previous statements of contrition from japanese leaders for countrys actions during war while declining to include a apology with respect to his or her own administration, appearing to draw a line beneath the last. their successor should be aware.