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Biden's Asia policy

US watches Japan's leadership race, hoping for a stable partner

New PM's staying power and stance on China will affect Biden strategy

NEW YORK -- During U.S. President Joe Biden's eight years as vice president, Japan had five prime ministers. The party in power switched from the Liberal Democratic Party to the Democratic Party of Japan and then back to the LDP, depriving the U.S. and Japan of the opportunity to strengthen their alliance in any meaningful way.

So when Biden became president in January, one of the key decisions he made was to signal that Japan was the most important U.S. ally in the Indo-Pacific region -- and to treat Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga as such. China was seen as the principal strategic threat, and Japan was a crucial piece of the puzzle in forming a united front with allies against Beijing.

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