Dr Michael Green, CEO of US Studies Centre, writes for Japan Decides 2021: The Japanese General Election edited by Robert J. Pekkanen, Steven R. Reed, Daniel M. Smith, and published by Palgrave Macmillan.

Japan’s 2021 election came at a time of major activism in Japanese foreign and security policy but no candidate for the leadership of the ruling LDP nor the leaders of the major opposition parties challenged the broad strategic trajectory set by former Prime Minister Abe Shinzō. Voters appeared to understand that Abe’s focus on strengthening the US-Japan alliance, deepening the US-Japan-India-Australia “Quad,” investing in infrastructure and resilience in developing Asia, and increasing deterrence capabilities vis-à-vis China together constituted the necessary elements of a strategy to secure Japanese interests at a time of growing geopolitical friction. Yet while there was no debate about new directions in national security, the election debates did foreshadow some of the major decisions the Japanese government will have to face in the coming years, from technology decoupling to development of strike capability for the Self-Defense Forces.