The inevitable and historic shifting of global power from the West to the East is the famous central theme of Kishore Mahbubani. Currently dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, Mahbubani has put forth another view of important consequence. It’s that Japan needs to come out of its foreign policy shell and exert more regional and international influence.

Expressed in a recent interview with Siti Rahil of the influential Kyodo News Service, published in The Japan Times, the country’s leading English-language daily, Dean Mahbubani urged Japan to “assume greater political leadership and pursue more assertive foreign policy.”

In place of this submissive role, Mahbubani asserted that Japan should embrace its potential as a “bridge between Asia and the West.” However, to accomplish this the government would have to rethink its current policies. Specifically, Mahbubani suggested that the country take a more proactive role in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). As a point of comparison, he noted how China has adopted a higher profile, even “pursuing a free-trade pact with the ASEAN bloc.”

Known for works such as “Can Asians Think?” and “The New Asian Hemisphere,” Mahbubani has been a major advocate for a rising Asia, writing copiously on the subject, and an increasingly influential voice at the top table of elite world opinion.

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The Japan Times