Speaking Of Asia

Abe's mixed bag from Mar-a-Lago

Japan looks increasingly out of the loop in the evolving dynamics surrounding the US, North Korea and China

Speaking two weeks ago on MoneyFM 89.3, Singapore Press Holdings' new radio station, shortly after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left for home after his surprise rail trip to Beijing, I described Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as being in the unenviable position of being the leader who looked most out of his depth in the current East Asian diplomatic whirl.

Not consulted beforehand while United States President Donald Trump accepted Mr Kim's offer of direct negotiations - an effort brokered by South Korea - and blindsided by Beijing's assertion of influence on the Korean question with Mr Kim's very public kowtow to President Xi Jinping, Mr Abe has seemed a bit flat-footed this year on too many fronts, including at home.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2018, with the headline 'Abe's mixed bag from Mar-a-Lago'. Print Edition | Subscribe