a The senior economic advisor to the Japanese prime minister says Tokyo must prepare for a “leadershipless era” where US global leadership gradually fades away and other strategic ties expand as its security alliance with Washington strengthens.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga wasted little time congratulating President-elect Joe Biden on his election victory last week, despite Donald Trump’s refusal to compromise, saying he wanted to strengthen the alliance and ensure peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.

But concerns about America’s internal transformation have escalated in Japan for years, and intensified in the face of China’s growing military and economic insistence, and continued during Trump’s presidency.

For Suga’s advisor, Takeshi Ninami, chief executive of the beverage giant Suntory Holdings Ltd and a regular celebrity in the international business circuit, Biden’s promises to restore ties with international institutions and allies are welcome.

But Ninami expects that US influence will continue to diminish in relation to China, as Biden faces deep internal divisions in America after the elections, so Japan must expand its efforts for multiple partnerships.

“We have to put a footprint in the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and India,” he said, “while at the same time, we should explore more relations with the United States in the security field.”

In a separate statement issued shortly after Biden won the election, Ninami said: “I believe it is imperative that American global leadership in the long run will vanish.”

“Japan must continue to deepen the alliance between the United States and Japan, but at the same time build up its relations with the world in order to prepare for an era without leadership.”

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