TOKYO – New Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida may think he has a China problem on his hands. His troubles may actually be more about what’s afoot in South Korea.
On Thursday, Kishida dissolved parliament for a general election on October 31. His ruling Liberal Democratic Party and coalition partner, Komeito, face a number of economic and geopolitical headwinds sure to intensify between now and then.
Kishida’s immediate priorities are staving off recession and getting Joe Biden’s White House on the same page as Tokyo. Japan’s political establishment and economy are still nursing wounds from Donald Trump’s trade war. Goal one for Kishida is restoring predictability to the US-Japan commercial relationship.
Adding to the sense of urgency are worsening relations with Xi Jinping’s China. With domestic growth weakening and the LDP’s popularity down, Tokyo is taking a more muscular approach toward China, particularly on Taiwan.