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PacNet #52 – Japan-ASEAN Summit: Playing Catch-Up With China?

It’s hard to get excited about last week’s Japan-ASEAN summit. The decision to create a new “special relationship” between the two could be historic, but the economic free trade areas that will provide its foundation look like long shots. Japanese efforts are likely to be frustrated by the same political forces that have blocked previous initiatives. That is a pity: not only for Japan, but for the Southeast Asian governments that seek a rejuvenated relationship with Tokyo.