All five candidates for the LDP presidency stood significantly to the right of incumbent Sadakazu Tanigaki on external relations, but Shinzo Abe had been the most vocal of all. But he’s going to disappoint the Japanese right and anyone else looking for more excitement on the eastern front. He has always played it safe at crunch time and there’s no reason to believe that he won’t do so again. He voted for the Koizumi administration’s Japan Post reform bill in 2005 despite personal misgivings, wound up endorsing the Kono Statement when his comments regarding the Korean comfort women stirred up controversy,* and never—not openly at least—visited Yasukuni Shrine. Sure enough, one of his first acts as new LDP president was to pick Masahiko Komura, the 70 year-old head of the Japan-China Parliamentarian Friendship Association, as deputy LDP president, an at-large assignment whose role is analogous in institutional terms to that of the US vice president. Komura visited Beijing from September 26-29 as one of the leaders of the Seven Japan-China Friendship Organizations.**
So that’s that.
* A little creative editing by NYT interviewer Norimitsu Onishi also played a role there.
** Japan-China Economic Association Fujuo Cho missed the trip because the Toyota corporate jet failed to take off… What?