Posts

Showing posts with the label #Bulgaria

Japan, China, and the Western Balkans

Image
Why Shinzo Abe Visited Serbia
On January 17, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrapped up a five-day trip to northern and southeastern Europe. After visiting Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia, he went to Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania. His trip to the Baltic and the Balkan regions fits within Tokyo’s decades-long attempts to establish itself as a global economic and political leader, and to increase its sphere of influence via the use of soft power and the employment of its financial prowess as a diplomatic lever. On his Balkan leg of the trip, a few points require attention. The least important one, but also perhaps the most entertaining, was Abe’s visit to Romania, which would have been a boring diplomatic success for both sides complete with even more boring press communiques — had the Romanian prime minister, Mihai Tudose, not resigned the night before Abe’s arrival, thus leaving his Japanese counterpart unattended. The embarrassment for the Japanese guests, and for the Romanian hosts,…