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Abe Suga Eugene Hoshiko - Pool/Getty Images

Japan After Abe

New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga served as cabinet secretary throughout his predecessor Shinzo Abe’s eight-year tenure, and presented himself as the “continuity” candidate to succeed him. But will economic and geopolitical pressures force Suga to chart a different course from his former patron?

In this Big Picture, Daniel Gros of the Centre for European Policy Studies argues that Abe’s economic program (dubbed “Abenomics”) accomplished little overall and thus offers a cautionary tale for Europe and other aging rich countries. Keio University’s Akira Kawamoto concurs, and urges Suga to pursue much bolder structural reforms than Abe did, in order to boost productivity and economic growth.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs Japan’s Kathy Matsui highlights the surge in female employment under Abenomics, and – although formidable obstacles remain – shows how the attitudes of younger Japanese are turning the tide in favor of gender parity in the workforce.

Bill Emmott, a former editor-in-chief of The Economist, expects a continuation of Abe’s more robust and autonomous foreign and defense policy, with Japan building its own network of partners around the world. But Claremont McKenna College’s Minxin Pei warns that escalating US-China tensions will make it increasingly difficult for Suga to avoid taking sides, especially on technology issues and security arrangements.

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