Japan's economic collapse in the 1990s and its decades of US dependence have left the nation rather timid, Christian Caryl writes in Newsweek. But its strong economy, bold environmental moves, and likely change of government this year will leave it poised to help the world. “The only trick now,” Caryl writes, “is to persuade Tokyo—under its current leaders or its next ones—to take the plunge.”
Japan has already shown some gusto, extending a credit line to the International Monetary Fund and bolstering Asia's financial security with financial mechanisms called credit swaps. Next, it can boost world security with non-military "boots on the ground" in hot-spots like Afghanistan. Japan must stop being "the Hamlet of Asia, endlessly fretting about its waning world influence while failing to do much about it," writes Caryl.