“…More important, Mr. Abe is now bridging to the Trump administration. He was the first foreign leader to meet Mr. Trump, flying to New York City only a week after the election. He hopes to convince Mr. Trump to remain engaged in the Pacific and to accept that the only way to deal with common challenges is to work more closely together. Economic issues, such as a bilateral trade pact in place of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, will come up at some point.
Japan’s role in the Pacific is likely to increase as Mr. Trump finds that America’s traditional allies in Asia are less reliable. South Korea’s new president will probably come from the country’s far left; Australia has bowed out of freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea. Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte remains an unpredictable wild card who is drawing closer to China. Mr. Abe is sure to stress that Japan remains the one partner Mr. Trump can rely on.
Such reliance will be needed as Mr. Trump decides how far to challenge China. The president-elect’s phone call with Taiwan’s leader, his hard line on trade, and his linking of economic and security issues presages a rockier period ahead for U.S.-China ties. Mr. Trump may well be asking Japan for more support, such as increased maritime operations in Asia….”