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FILE PHOTO: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (2nd L) and his former Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe (L) bow to national flags as they review an honor guard before their meeting at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan November 11, 2016.

REUTERS/Toru Yamanaka/Pool

India’s rise makes Japan anxious

India is set to surpass Japan as the world's fourth-largest economy by 2025, earlier than previous forecasts. This marks Japan’s second year of decline in global GDP rankings, after falling from third to fourth place behind Germany in 2023.

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Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (R) takes part in a class on generative artificial intelligence at the University of Tokyo in Japan's capital on Aug. 14, 2023.

Kyodo via Reuters Connect

Japan confronts the “dark side” of AI

Japan detailed a global framework for international cooperation on artificial intelligence on May 1, building off the Hiroshima Process announced at last year’s G7 summit. The framework focuses on stemming the risks that generative AI poses for global disinformation — but details are a bit lacking.

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FILE PHOTO: Japanese Yen and U.S. dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration taken March 10, 2023.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

How long can Japan prop up the yen?

Japan’s currency slipped to 160 yen to the dollar on Monday, its lowest rate since 1990, triggering a government intervention and threatening Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s position.

Voters are frustrated by Japan’s high cost of living, but a change in leadership is unlikely to alleviate the pain. The heavily populated island has few fossil fuel reserves, and it must import food and energy from abroad. That means when the yen weakens, ordinary folks see their bills shoot up.

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Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida poses with U.S President Joe Biden as they are on the way to state dinner in Washington DC, U.S, on April 10, 2024.

EYEPRESS via Reuters Connect

Biden and Kishida bromance is meant to make Xi sweat

The White House showered Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida with gifts and honors during his state visit starting Wednesday, but the friendly display is aimed just as much at Beijing as it is Tokyo.

Kishida and Biden announced an upgrade to the longstanding US-Japan defense agreement on Wednesday that will make Japan’s military more agile by appointing a local US command and organizing a joint military-industrial production committee. The two will hold a trilateral meeting with Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday to discuss further military cooperation.

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Thick plates of steel for use in construction and ship building are hot-rolled by machinery at the Nippon Steel Corp. Kimitsu steel mill in Kimitsu, Japan near Tokyo February 6, 2008.

Biden slams Nippon Steel deal — but Tokyo plays it cool

US President Joe Biden on Thursday came out against Japan’s largest steel producer acquiring Pittsburgh-based US Steel, saying America must “maintain strong American steel companies powered by American steelworkers.”

Nippon Steel made an offer worth over $14 billion in December, and shortly afterward the White House indicated it would be scrutinized by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States. For now, the deal is still on, but CFIUS review is usually reserved for deals involving companies from potential adversaries – not from trusted allies like Japan — and presidents rarely comment before the committee finishes.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un attends the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of a factory in Songchon County, North Korea, February 28, 2024.

KCNA via REUTERS

IAEA chief backs Japan-North Korea talks

International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi said Tuesday that the UN body supports Japan’s efforts to hold a summit with North Korea to boost engagement, even if nuclear weapons aren’t on the agenda.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said he is prepared to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he tries to bring back Japanese nationals abducted to North Korea between 1977 and 1983. Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong, who holds considerable sway, indicated that Pyongyang would be open to talks with Japan last month.

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Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to media at the Prime Minister's office in Tokyo on Dec. 11, 2023

Kishida’s rough road

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida faces several serious challenges. He must boost his country’s economy by protecting relations with both the United States and China. That means preparing his government for the risk that Donald Trump, the most confrontational of post-war presidents, will be elected president again next November. It also means resolving political and economic differences with Beijing outside the public eye.

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The Camp David summit
The Camp David summit | Quick Take | GZERO Media

The Camp David summit

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here and a Quick Take on the Camp David Principles, the historic meeting taking place in Camp David today between President Biden, the Japanese Prime Minister Kishida, and South Korean President Yoon. It's historic. It's a big deal. It's worth talking about. And frankly, I consider this to be the most significant successful piece of diplomacy of the Biden administration to date. It is roughly equivalent in my mind to the Abraham Accords of the Trump administration. In that case, this was leading to direct diplomatic engagement, opening relations between Israel, America's top ally in the region and the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, other American allies in the region. With the Saudis, not signing, but certainly getting closer. It's important in part because it stabilized a region that matters to the United States. It also allows for better strategic coordination long-term, and it is broadly speaking, supported by both sides.

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