François-Philippe Champagne will replace Justin Trudeau at Shinzo Abe's funeral

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François-Philippe Champagne to replace Justin Trudeau at Shinzo Abe's funeral

Justin Trudeau has chosen to stay home to oversee Ottawa's response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pauses as he signs a condolence book for former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Japanese Embassy on July 12, in Ottawa.

If nature hadn't been unleashed in eastern Canada, Justin Trudeau would have been the only G7 leader to attend the former Japanese prime minister's state funeral. It will ultimately be his minister François-Philippe Champagne who will travel 10,000 kilometers to pay tribute to a “friend” of Canada who was murdered in July. Why does Canada absolutely want to be represented in Tokyo? Broader strategic objectives in Asia-Pacific must be considered.

In October 2015, the Japanese Prime Minister was the first foreign leader to call Justin Trudeau to congratulate him on his election victory. In the years that followed, the two men met or spoke on the phone about twenty times. Over time, they maintained a great friendship, said Japanese Ambassador to Canada Kanji Yamanouchi.

Canada describes Shinzo Abe as a faithful friend and ally of our country .

How to explain such closeness between two leaders so different from an ideological point of view, between Justin Trudeau the progressive and Shinzo Abe the conservative nationalist? The approaches of their governments on immigration, for example, were very different.

Between Justin Trudeau and Shinzo Abe, common priorities, commercial and geopolitical, prevailed over their differences.

Shinzo Abe and Justin Trudeau during a bilateral meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, April 2019.

Commercial interests partly explain the stable and positive relationship between Canada and Japan under both Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau. Japan is Canada's fourth largest bilateral merchandise trading partner.

Here are two countries, surrounded by giants, that are very dependent on foreign trade, free trade and a rules-based international order.

Justin Trudeau and Shinzo Abe at a joint press conference at the Kantei in Tokyo, May 2016.

In an Asia increasingly dominated by a very powerful China that wanted to establish its own rules, Japan was defending these universal rules as a counterweight, explains Éric Boulanger, lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the #x27;UQAM.

Justin Trudeau, he, jostled on the trade front by the Trump administration during the renegotiation of NAFTA, had every interest in getting closer to Shinzo Abe, a leader with similar objectives, that is to say to remain competitive and competitive in a system where the rules are well known, fair and equitable, explains Éric Boulanger.

The conclusion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership was an important moment in the relationship between Trudeau and Abe.

When President Trump withdrew the United States from the agreement, Japan took over and found with Canada a very strong ally to relaunch negotiations with the other member countries and reformulate the new agreement which is in progress. force today, explains Professor Boulanger.

The Trade Ministers of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam at the signing of the treaty in Santiago on March 8.

Today, Tokyo remains very interested in Canada's food and natural resources, such as wheat, pork or critical minerals, and in its new technologies.

The Canada-Japan relationship is about to enter a new chapter. The Government of Canada hopes to unveil by Christmas its new Indo-Pacific strategy aimed at strengthening its ties with countries in the region.

According to our information, Japan will occupy an important place in this economic, environmental and security roadmap. We must assume ourselves as a country in the Pacific region, says a government source.

Canada is seeking to vary its economic partners in Asia-Pacific in the context of growing tensions between Beijing and Ottawa. In May, the Canadian government banned Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from its 5G network over national security concerns.

Friday, with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol in Ottawa, Justin Trudeau discussed Canada's new Indo-Pacific strategy. He pointed out that increasingly, totalitarian countries are not providing services that meet the expectations of our citizens in terms of environmental protection, labor standards and respect for human rights. nobody.

“We can be extraordinary economic partners without being dependent on autocracies or totalitarian states like China or others.

— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.

Last Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced that Canada would join the Blue Pacific Partners group,created by the Americans, with the aim of strengthening economic ties with the Pacific Islands. It is another embodiment of the US-China rivalry for influence in the region.

If Shinzo Abe had carefully maintained his ties with American and Canadian leaders, it was also to guard against Chinese expansionism.

Abe was trying to get allies where he could find them. The United States, of course, was most important to him, but so was Canada. We are neighbors of the United States. We are allies of the United States. We have been friends with Japan for a long time, says Bernard Bernier, professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Montreal.

Xi Jinping is often called the most powerful Chinese leader since the regime's founder, Mao Zedong.

The Canadian government's desire to be seen and heard in the region is not insignificant at this time, according to the professor. It's really to counter China's inclinations, not only against Taiwan, but also against Japan. China is still quite aggressive against Japan, explains Bernard Bernier.

Ottawa cannot ignore the tensions that exist in the region. Canada is highly dependent, for example, on goods moving through the Taiwan Strait and must remain vigilant.

It should be noted that the Trudeau government has increased its military presence in the Indo-Pacific in the part of Operation NEON, to enforce United Nations sanctions against North Korea.

With the mountains of Washington State as a backdrop, a Sea King helicopter flies over the ship HMCS Vancouver in Esquimalt, British Columbia.

Since 2018, Canada periodically deploys ships and aircraft to prevent sanctions-busting maneuvers against North Korea, such as the transfer of fuel or other goods between ships.

The Canadian Armed Forces have deployed HMCS Vancouver as part of this operation. This fall, a maritime patrol aircraft will be deployed from Kaneda Air Base, Japan.

In Asia-Pacific, where the world's major geopolitical forces clash, the Canada wants to be at the table. Ottawa chooses to bet on memory and continuity.

With the collaboration of Marie Chabot-Johnson.

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