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5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: Japan edition

March 3, 2015

By Michael Auslin

While Asia seems largely peaceful compared to Eastern Europe and the Middle East, it is, in fact, a region of growing risk. The balance of power in the region appears to be shifting towards China, while America’s alliances remain in need of upgrading to focus on new threats. North Korea’s missile and nuclear program continues apace, and Sino-Russian relations grow ever closer on issues ranging from energy to diplomacy. Demographic changes and economic slowdown also plague every nation in the region.

In order for the United States to successfully maintain its presence and influence, as well as to mitigate growing risk, working with its allies is more important than ever. At the top of that list is Japan, Asia’s most powerful democracy. Yet Japan continues to struggle with economic reform and is attempting to forge closer relations with its Asian neighbors. Given Japan’s importance to Asia’s future path, the following are some of the top questions every presidential candidate should be asked.

1. Do you support a quick conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks

Japan’s economy has languished for over 20 years, yet current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (pronounced “ah-bay”) is shaking things up with his economic reform plan, colloquially known as “Abenomics.” A cornerstone of his reform approach is to conclude a free trade agreement with the United States and other Pacific partners. Yet the TPP, as it is known, has proved difficult to conclude, particularly due to American opposition to Japanese autos and Japanese intransigence on agricultural issues. President Obama, however, has put little personal effort into pushing the TPP, taking away some of the momentum behind it. A new president will have to lean in on free trade, not least because it will help Japan return to economic vitality.

Read the full article at the American Enterprise Institute: 5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: Japan edition

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