In this episode of the Foreign Policy ProvCast, Joshua Walker speaks with Mark Melton about Japan’s geopolitical role, especially as the rivalry between the United States and China intensifies.

The last time Walker spoke for Providence, he was in the process of leaving the Eurasia Group to become the president of the Japan Society, so he talks about his new organization’s projects and mission. Then he describes the role Japan has played in East Asia since the end of the Second World War and the role the country can play now as the world moves from a transatlantic century to a transpacific century.

News came out last week that lawmakers in Japan are pushing for the country to have the right to strike missile-launch sites in North Korea and China, but Walker explains why these headlines are misleading. He also discusses Japan’s Self Defense Forces and the prospects of the country changing its constitution so that it can have a more normalized military force and presence.

Then Melton and Walker talk about how America’s alliance with both South Korea and Japan has traditionally provided stability for the region and the current status of those relationships. The two also cover how Japan is caught in the crossfire of the US-China rivalry, along with how the people of Japan view both countries.

Walker finishes with analysis about what might happen with US-Japan relations if Joe Biden becomes president, how Shinzo Abe has been able to manage relations well with Donald Trump, and the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the 2020 Olympics in Japan to happen in 2021 instead.