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Olympic-sized stakes for Japan’s prime minister

When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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Is China too confident?

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody, Ian Bremmer here. Happy Monday. Have your Quick Take to start off the week. I want to talk a little bit about China and the backlash to China. We all know that China has been the top international focus of the Biden administration, considered to be the top national security threat, adversary, competitor of the United States. On top of the fact that there's large bipartisan agreement about that, on top of the fact that President Biden doesn't want to be seen in any way as potentially weak on China, to be vulnerable to the Republicans if he were to do so.

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Biden and G7 take on China

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody happy Monday. Ian Bremmer here. I've got a Quick Take for you. Thought we would talk a little bit about President Biden's first trip outside the United States as president and the G7, which frankly went better than expected. I'm the guy that talks about the GZERO world and the absence of global leadership. But the desire of a lot of American allies to have a more regularized relationship with the United States that feels like a partnership and alliance is pretty high. And President Biden's willingness to play that role, irrespective of the constraints and divisions that he has back at home, it's also pretty high. And those two things aligned.

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What We’re Watching: Peruvian presidential runoff, EU push to tax multinationals, Japan’s post-Olympics election

Peru's divisive choice: Peruvians head to the polls on Sunday to choose between two deeply polarizing candidates in the presidential runoff election. One is Pedro Castillo, a far-left yet socially conservative union leader and teacher. Castillo wants to rewrite the constitution to curb the power of the business elite and distribute more mining wealth to social programs. The other is rightwing firebrand Keiko Fujimori, who says she would continue the free-market policies championed by her strongman father in the 1990s. Fujimori says the country needs a demodura ("hard democracy"), a somewhat milder version of the dictablanda ("soft dictatorship") her dad once led. Castillo is beloved by rural Peruvians and anti-establishment urban voters, but his embrace of Marxism and Venezuela may alienate moderates. Fujimori, for her part, is backed by big business, but very unpopular outside her base, and negatively associated with her father's authoritarian rule and corruption — not to mention her own multiple legal troubles. Castillo is currently leading in the polls, but Fujimori has a shot at victory if voter turnout is lower than expected.

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US global reputation a year after George Floyd's murder; EU sanctions against Belarus; Olympics outlook

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on World In 60 Seconds (aka Around the World in 180 Seconds) with help from Moose the dog:

On the anniversary of George Floyd's murder, have race relations in the United States tarnished its reputation globally?

Sure it doesn't help. There's no question in the United States is one of the most racially divided and violent countries among advanced industrial democracies. And to the extent that the United States attempts to talk about human rights globally, it has a harder time doing that than other G7 countries would. And the Russians historically, and increasingly the Chinese, are trying to propagandize pretty hard by pointing out American hypocrisy. So I think it matters, but I would still argue that what the United States does internationally probably matters a lot more in terms of the way the US is perceived by those countries. So, no question it's important. And the legacy one year in, so far in the United States in terms of improving race relations, the state of that trajectory does not look great right now.

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What We're Watching: Le Pen on the rise, big leak in Iran, bad omen for Japan's LDP

Why is Marine Le Pen gaining momentum in France? "Each time France is hit by terrorism, the extreme right benefits," one French journalist told the Times Friday after an immigrant from Tunisia, who had been in the country illegally for a decade, fatally stabbed a French policewoman on the outskirts of Paris. After the attack, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Rally party, called for illegal immigrants to be "expelled" and for the "eradication of Islamism." As France continues to suffer from a series of Islamist terror attacks, polls show that Le Pen's hardline views on immigration and anti-Muslim sentiment are resonating with many mainstream voters. That's in part because France has suffered more terror attacks in recent years than any other Western country. Le Pen's electoral prospects are also getting help from President Macron's dismal performance: his approval rating has plummeted (he now has a 60 percent disapproval rating) because of perceptions that his government has botched the pandemic response and the vaccine rollout. Trying to appeal to the center-right before the attack, Macron vowed to uphold "the right to a peaceful life," and after Friday's killing said his government would get tough on "Islamist terrorism." But the opposition said the president's words are tokenistic and don't go nearly far enough. With just a year until the next presidential election, Le Pen is seizing the moment while Macron is mired in a deepening political crisis.

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Can "the Quad" constrain China?

China is making its neighbors nervous these days. Chinese fighter jets are screaming into Taiwan's airspace. Hundreds of armed Chinese "fishing boats" are plying the disputed waters of the South China Sea. And Beijing is slashing imports from some trading partners because of disputes over political issues.

To push back against this increasingly aggressive behavior, regional powers Japan, India, and Australia, together with the US, are boosting cooperation via a 17-year-old grouping called the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or simply "The Quad." But how effectively can these four countries really work together to counter China? Eurasia Group's Peter Mumford discusses the Quad's future.

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What We’re Watching: US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Fukushima wastewater, US stops J&J jab, big rabbit hunt

The end of "forever" in Afghanistan: The Biden administration says it'll withdraw all remaining US troops in Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that prompted Washington to invade the country in the first place. It's unclear how the withdrawal will affect American plans to steer intra-Afghan peace talks in the right direction under the terms of a peace agreement reached by the Trump administration and the Taliban in May 2020. Trump promised to pull out next month as long as the former al-Qaida hosts kept their end of the bargain by not launching deadly attacks (spoiler alert: they have not). Biden's move honors his campaign pledge to end a "forever war" that has claimed more than 2,300 American lives and cost the US Treasury almost $1 trillion since 2001. However, critics fear that a hasty departure could leave the Afghans helpless to prevent the Taliban from returning to power, rendering the entire mission not only expensive, but ultimately pointless.

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