Quick Take: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe steps down

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

We've got coronavirus still going on, you wouldn't know that from watching the American media right now. A lot more focus on social violence, on Kenosha, on Portland, but certainly coronavirus.

And the pandemic remains by far the most important issue, both for the United States and globally, not only because there are over a 180,000 dead in the US, but also the extraordinary economic impact and the fact that it is going to stay with us and have such a big impact on lives of the average Americans, on lives of the average citizens globally as we fight to reopen economies, get people back to work, get kids back to school, get a vaccine, or vaccines, that we can trust and we can take. And it's important to understand that even though the election is going to distract us maximally and hopefully engage us maximally over the coming two months and more, because I don't think it's over on November 3rd, that that's still we are dealing with the biggest crisis of our lifetimes and it's going to be with us for a lot longer than this election.

Having said that, getting away from the United States a little bit, there's a lot of news happening. And I thought I talk about a couple of those things. One is that the longest standing prime minister in Japanese history, Shinzo Abe, is stepping down, the second time he has stepped down for health concerns. This time, I would say it is for good. The good news is that Japan is very stable. The Liberal Democratic Party is very entrenched. There's not a lot of inequality in Japan. There is not a lot of individual upset or dissent with the idea that elections are rigged, or institutions are illegitimate.


And so, this is going to be a very smooth process. It's most likely that the chief cabinet secretary Suga-san will be the next PM. But irrespective of whether it's him or one of a number of other prospective prime ministers, it's going to be a very smooth transition "Abenomics" is not going to be changed by the next PM. Not fiscal policy, not monetary policy, not social policy domestically, not the way they've handled the coronavirus. All of that is going to be quite stable. I mean, when I look at the world of advanced industrial democracies, Japan and Germany are the two places that have had the strongest leaders, but they're also the two places where the next governments are likely to look the most like the old governments. And that's a pretty big deal.

Remember, Japan is the third largest economy in the world, and it's important to say just how much of a stabilizing influence they have been in terms of lack of question of internal dissent, but also on the international side, their willingness to engage constructively in ensuring that a Trans-Pacific Partnership continued to happen once the United States pulled out. On climate on the Paris Initiative. In multilateral institutions like the WTO, Japan has continued to be a strong and constructive supporter and arbiter of that international architecture. The place where Abe's influence is going to be truly missed is on the international stage because Japan historically has hit below its weight. It hasn't had a strong military or strong defense policy. It hasn't had very assertive diplomacy. Abe's willingness to get on planes, to travel immensely, to engage personally much more with international leaders. His relationship with Modi, for example, in India, by far, the strongest relationship of any country in the world with India and did help to make India more of a geopolitical force in Asia. And more broadly, that is going to be missed. The willingness of the Japanese to engage economically more deeply with China, even as its national security relationship and nuclear umbrella with the US was unquestioned, that Prime Minister Abe had a great deal to deal with, the desire to make the "Five Eyes" agreement, the cyber and technology coordination with the US and other countries like Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Canada into a "Six Eyes" agreement. That was driven much more by Abe. I don't think you would have seen a lot of those moves if Abe hadn't been premier.

Also, just the fact that Abe himself was seen as a close friend of Trump and a big supporter of Trump, even though Abe personally really didn't like him. I mean, when you spoke with the prime minister and you spoke with his key advisers after his meetings with Trump, he was enormously frustrated because, you know, Trump didn't have facts and he didn't know what might lead to a blow up or an explosion or how the meeting was going to go was extremely difficult for the Japanese to come, incredibly prepared to every meeting to be working with someone who was incredibly unprepared and just wings it all the time. And yet Abe's relationship with Trump has actually been extremely stable. And Trump considers Abe to be one of his closer friends internationally. That's really a testament to Abe in a way that Merkel really hasn't done any of that. And that's been much worse for the US-Germany relationship than it has been the US-Japan relationship. So, a little bit of how we think about Japan right now.

Another big piece that's worth at least mentioning is the end of the UAE boycott of Israel. You now see the first direct air flights happening between the UAE and Israel. This is a big deal. This is the beginning of greater normalization of ties between Israel and a number of states in the Arab world. In the GCC, the Gulf Cooperation Council, also more broadly, Morocco, Sudan look like they are moving towards normalization. Bahrain, I could easily see that happening. There's been a big trip by Secretary of State Pompeo to a number of these countries just a week ago. Now you see Jared Kushner also making these trips. This is because they want to work with Israel on national security issues, because common concerns about Iran outweigh common outweigh disparate alignment on the Palestinian issue, because the desires to engage in economic trade and technology exchange and educational change is more important for a number of countries that understand they've got to get beyond oil really fast. And certainly, the UAE has been quickest in that environment because they have a much more diversified economy. They've got a lot of young people that are getting engaged, a very globalized place. There aren't a lot of Emiratis that live in the UAE. In fact, in Dubai, it's something like 10 percent. It's nice to see that we are creating more normalized diplomacy.

Look, I was always someone that believed that the more engagement we have between leaders, even of countries that don't get along in fundamental ways, the better off we are. I was all in favor of Trump talking to the North Koreans. Doesn't mean I wanted to have a really big summit with all the pageantry, giving them legitimization. But I do like the idea of engaging diplomatically so we can learn more about these countries and maybe have a better shot of improving the places that we disagree. I would have had no problem with Obama meeting with the Iranians. I mean, on the back of that nuclear deal, which was very limited, but there really still hasn't been a lot of diplomatic engagement. So, the more diplomatic engagement generally, the better. And I see that in the Middle East, especially as the United States is playing less of a role in the Middle East. And I think that is structural. Whether it's Trump or Biden for the next four years, I think that is an unmitigatedly useful development and something we will see more of going forward.

We believe in access for everyone.

https://ad.doubleclick.net/ddm/trackimp/N6024.4218512GZEROMEDIA/B26379324.311531246;dc_trk_aid=504469522;dc_trk_cid=156468981;ord=[timestamp];dc_lat=;dc_rdid=;tag_for_child_directed_treatment=;tfua=;gdpr=${GDPR};gdpr_consent=${GDPR_CONSENT_755};ltd=?
Visa: We believe in access for everyone. Image of a small, diverse group of people, smiling

Gaps in economic opportunities have made it hard for all individuals to take part in the global payments ecosystem. To address those gaps, society needs public policies to empower citizens, small businesses, and economies. That’s why, in 2021, the Visa Economic Empowerment Institute (VEEI) started conducting research and publishing reports about fostering digital equity and inclusion, unlocking growth through trade, and imagining an open future for payments. In 2022, we hope you’ll visit the VEEI for insights and data on the future of inclusive economic policies. See our newest stories here.

A year of Biden

Joe Biden’s first year as US president included two major historic accomplishments and a series of (often bitter) disappointments that has his party headed toward likely defeat in November’s midterm elections. Biden’s own political future is increasingly uncertain.

More Show less
Two children and a robot. We have to control AI before it controls us, warns former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Listen: Tech companies set the rules for the digital world through algorithms powered by artificial intelligence. But does Big Tech really understand AI? Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt tells Ian Bremmer that we need to control AI before it controls us.

What's troubling about AI, he says, is that it’s still very new, and AI is learning by doing. Schmidt, co-author of “The Age of AI: And Our Human Future,” worries that AI exacerbates problems like anxiety, driving a human addiction cycle that leads to depression.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

COVID has accelerated our embrace of the digital world. The thing is, we don't always know who’s running it.

Instead of governments, Ian Bremmer says, so far a handful of Big Tech companies are writing the rules of digital space — through computer algorithms powered by artificial intelligence.

The problem is that tech companies have set something in motion they don't fully understand, nor control.

More Show less

If omicron makes cases explode in China, the country's leaders will have to choose between weathering short-term or long-term pain.

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, predicts that sticking to the zero-COVID approach at all costs will hurt the Chinese and global economy. In his view, learning to live with the virus is the way to go.

More Show less
The Graphic Truth: How do US presidents do in their first year?

Joe Biden's approval rating has taken a big hit during his first year as US president. Biden is now just slightly more popular than his predecessor Donald Trump at the same point in his presidency. While Biden has made a series of policy and political blunders that might be reflected in polling, this is also a sign of the times: US politics are now so polarized that presidential approval has a low ceiling. We compare the approval ratings of the last five US presidents in their first year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow, Russia January 19, 2022.

Iran and Russia heart each other. The presidents of Iran and Russia have little in common personally, but they share many geopolitical interests, including in Afghanistan and Syria. They also have a common resolve in countering "the West.” These issues are all on the agenda as Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi held their first in-person meeting in Moscow. Raisi is a hardline cleric who leads a theocracy with nuclear ambitions. Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is a wily autocrat who enjoys provoking America and Europe, and has ambitions to return to the glory days of the territorially expansive Soviet Union — as seen with the Kremlin's recent provocations on the Ukrainian border. With the Iran nuclear talks on life support and Joe Biden already bracing for Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, Tehran and Moscow now have even more reasons to scheme and cooperate. Indeed, Moscow and Tehran have increasingly been cooperating on energy and security issues (Iran might be buying Russian military technology) as their respective relations with the West deteriorate.

More Show less
Namibian citizen Phillip Luhl holds one of his twin daughters as he speaks to his Mexican husband Guillermo Delgado via Zoom meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa, April 13, 2021

2: Namibia’s High Court ruled against two gay couples seeking legal recognition of their marriages. The judge said she agreed with the couples, who are seeking residency or work authorizations for foreign-born spouses, but is bound by a Supreme Court ruling that deems same-sex relationships illegitimate.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

A year of Biden

Signal

Can we control AI before it controls us?

GZERO World Clips

Should China learn to live with COVID?

GZERO World Clips

China vs COVID in 2022

GZERO World Clips

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal