It used to be fashionable to criticize Japan for its stagnant economic growth, falling and aging demographics and insular culture, among others, which had resulted in its declining significance in the global economy and geopolitics.
Back in 1998, the media even coined the phrase “Japan Passing,” when then-U.S. President Bill Clinton visited China and bypassed Japan, which came to be viewed as a sign of the nation’s slide into irrelevance on the global stage.
Japan Passing was particularly pressing from the 1990s, following the collapse of the bubble economy, a series of financial crises after that and stubborn deflation and the “lost decades,” accentuated by a passive and timid foreign policy of “checkbook diplomacy” from the First Gulf War onward.
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