This year saw efforts by Japan’s government, led by prime minister Fumio Kishida, to tackle problems such as the need to arrest the declining birthrate, increase defense spending, deepen security ties with the US and other nations, and safeguard the rights of sexual minorities. Yet despite being in an enviable position domestically, with no national election looming, a decimated opposition, and a coalition partner with the votes to underwrite his administration, Kishida was unable to rally the public behind a tax hike to fund defense spending. Japan’s prime ministers remain sensitive to public opinion, likely due to the precariousness of their position as leader of the Liberal Democratic Party rather than electoral considerations.

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