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Abe’s legacy in America

  “President Biden’s meal menu during his visit to Tokyo this week reflects the taste preferences of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. His hometown is Hiroshima, so the state dinner included Hiroshima beef slices, Hiroshima vegetables and Hiroshima lemon soda. But Biden’s visit to Japan The agenda is more determined by Shinzo Abe, who served as prime minister from 2012 to 2020.”
  This is a passage from an analysis article in The Economist after Biden’s visit to Japan in late May, titled “Abe Influence still hangs over Japan”.
  On July 8, Abe was attacked and killed while participating in an election campaign. This sudden incident, like a shock bomb, detonated the outside world’s thinking about Abe’s political life “in advance”. Otherwise, Abe’s political inventory may be more limited to the academic circle.
  Looking back now, the judgment of The Economist can be slightly modified: Japan without Abe is still Abe-like. In terms of internal affairs, constitutional revision is a high probability event, which was Abe’s long-cherished wish. Of course, it is now his last wish. In the Senate election on July 10, the “Constitutional Amendment Coalition” led by the Liberal Democratic Party won a major victory, which has cleared a major obstacle to constitutional amendment.
  Diplomatically, the continuity and influence of Abe’s policies are more “meaningful”.
  The visit to Japan had two important tasks: one was to attend the US-Japan-India-Australia Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, and the other was to announce the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework. These agendas are all strategic layouts for the Indo-Pacific by the Biden administration. And the source of inspiration for this strategy is Abe.
  The concept of the Indo-Pacific first appeared in the academic circle, and it was Abe who brought it into the field of international politics. In August 2007, Abe delivered a speech entitled “The Convergence of Two Oceans” in the Indian Congress. In that speech, Abe did not use the expression “Indo-Pacific”, but clearly outlined the concept of “Indo-Pacific”: “The Pacific and Indian Oceans are bringing dynamic connections as seas of freedom and prosperity. ‘Greater Asia’ is clearly emerging.”
To a certain extent, today’s US diplomacy in Asia has an obvious Abe color.

  Abe’s “idea” did not cause any ripples in Washington at the time. Obama, who was elected president of the United States more than a year later, called himself the “President of the Pacific.” But late in his administration, America’s strategic vision has expanded to the Indo-Pacific. In particular, Obama’s visit to India in 2015 greatly enhanced India’s position in the US strategy, which is highly consistent with Abe’s vision.
  In November 2017, during Trump’s visit to Japan, he proposed the concept of “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”, and later announced the “US Indo-Pacific Strategic Framework”. His successor, Biden, launched a more systematic and strategic Indo-Pacific strategy. In this process, both Abe and his successors, Yoshihide Suga and Fumio Kishida, have shown a considerable degree of strategic cooperation with the United States.
  The US-Japan-India-Australia Quadrilateral Security Dialogue is one of the important pillars of the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy. And the idea of ​​this small group also came from Abe. In a speech to the Indian Congress in 2007, Abe proposed the idea of ​​forming an “Arc of Freedom and Prosperity” by the democracies of Japan, the United States, India and Australia. After he came to power for the second time in 2012, he put forward the concept of “Asian Democracy and Security Diamond”, and the members are still these four countries.
  During Trump’s four years in office, the United States, Japan, India and Australia have held several rounds of foreign minister-level meetings, and the “quartet mechanism” has taken shape. Biden convened a video summit of the United States, Japan, India and Australia less than two months after he took office.
  To a certain extent, today’s US diplomacy in Asia has an obvious Abe color.
  On July 11, Blinken, who was visiting Asia recently, temporarily changed his itinerary to Tokyo to express his condolences to Abe. For the United States, Abe is indeed worth “remembering”, because his past diplomatic efforts are in line with the needs of the current US strategy.
  Judging from the current situation, Kishida diplomacy is unlikely to deviate too far from Abe’s line. Because Abe has firmly locked the direction of Japan’s diplomacy by “leaving” its diplomatic heritage in the United States. But what does this mean for Japan?