US and Japan to bring back bottom-up diplomacy under Biden

US and Japan to bring back bottom-up diplomacy under Biden

Obama-era Japan hands like Campbell offer ready-made connections

TOKYO — Working-level talks will replace outgoing President Donald Trump’s top-down approach in U.S. diplomacy with Japan, with the shift likely helped along by many familiar faces from President-elect Joe Biden’s days as vice president in the Obama administration.

Biden’s new team, featuring experts on the Asia-Pacific region and Japan in particular, signals a change from Trump’s focus on personal relationships to a more consensus-based approach to setting bilateral policy.

Tokyo has welcomed the appointment of well-known Japan hand Kurt Campbell to the new post of Indo-Pacific coordinator on the National Security Council.

Campbell served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs under then-President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2013 and was a central figure in the administration’s “rebalance” toward the region in response to China’s rise.