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Championing TPP 2.0 could give Abe his global moment

9 6 2

It may already be too late for Shinzo Abe, as his Cabinet support rates fall even lower than U.S. President Donald Trump’s. Between scandals, legislative overreach and tepid wage growth, the prime minister’s domestic political capital is evaporating.

To turn things around, if that’s even possible, Abe should do something arguably no Japanese leader has done in decades: project strength and leadership abroad. In other words, revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership and expand its membership base.

Abe took a step in that direction last week, convening the 11 countries that signed the U.S.-led trade deal on which Trump reneged. Metaphors abounded as TPP refugees commiserated in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, surrounded by regenerative hot springs and a volcanically active geopolitical scene with Trump’s magma chamber of a White House ready to blow at its core.

Who knew Japan, of all countries, would be leading the global charge for free trade? That’s not the only tectonic shift Trumpworld has wrought. China, yes China, is grabbing a leadership role on climate change as Trump reopens coal mines. But Japan suddenly has street cred, agreeing in principle with the European Union on a giant trade pact.

To legendary economist George Magnus, it “makes the case for Brexit, including........

© The Japan Times