Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his successor, Yoshihide Suga, in Tokyo, September 2020
Eugene Hoshiko / Pool / Reuters

In an era of renewed great-power competition that Washington has framed as an all-out, zero-sum battle between “the free world” and a menacing China, East Asia’s other great power, Japan, has gotten short shrift. Japan does not aspire to superpower status, and its limitations are well known: demographic decline, a deflationary economy, and self-imposed restrictions on the use of force abroad. But it would be a mistake to write off Japan as a has-been. It boasts a resilient democracy and a successful track record of adjusting to economic globalization. For decades, Japan has been a leader in infrastructure finance

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