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How the U.S. election will impact Japanese politics

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. presidential election season was in full swing with the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3.

The Republican side so far has seen predictable results with President Donald Trump winning by a landslide in the Iowa caucuses as well as in the New Hampshire primary on Feb. 10. Following his acquittal in the impeachment trial, Trump is expected to accelerate his campaign. He is capitalizing on his acquittal by demonizing the Democrats and energizing his Republic supporters.

In stark contrast, the Democratic primary has dramatically recalibrated the landscape for the presidential race. With the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary behind us, Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders have emerged as the two front-runners, with a possibility of the openly gay 38-year-old Buttigieg emerging as the Democratic presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden, who was initially the presumed front-runner, has fallen far behind and is fighting just to keep his campaign alive beyond the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29.

During the U.S. presidential election season, pundits in Japan spend lots of time speculating on questions such as “who is advising which candidate” and “which candidate is better for Japan.” But these questions are usually neither helpful nor productive. Japan rarely emerges as a campaign issue that affects votes.

This year’s presidential campaign is no exception in the sense that Japan or bilateral issues between the United States and Japan are highly unlikely to emerge as a major campaign........

© The Japan Times