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Asia’s Overlooked Great Power

Japan's economic recovery has been accompanied by an increasingly assertive stance on foreign and defense policy. This may worry the country's neighbors, but their best interests are served by a Japan that is able to address regional and global challenges.

Mention Asia, and most people think of the region’s fascinating, rising giants, China or India – or both. Or people think about North Korea’s nuclear program, some terrorist incident, or the humanitarian consequences of the latest earthquake or tsunami. But often overlooked – or at least underestimated – is Japan.

This is odd, given that Japan is still the world’s second largest economy, with a GDP of $5 trillion – more than China and India combined. Despite Japan’s relatively modest rate of economic growth, its GDP per capita is roughly $38,000, more than ten times that of either China or India.

Moreover, there are important stirrings in Japan that suggest change on both the economic and security fronts. The 1990’s may have been a lost decade, but Japan’s economy has begun to recover, now growing at more than 2% a year and boasting several firms that are truly global and hugely successful.

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