This week Japan released its first overarching national security strategy, a sign of the troubled times in North Asian geopolitics as well as a marker of where Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to take Japanese policy.

So this was the logical moment for the Lowy Institute to launch a new analysis putting Abe's strategy into context. In Japan is Back: Unbundling Abe's Grand Strategy, noted American Japan-watcher Mike Green explains Abe's objectives for Japan in coping with China's rise, and offers some conclusions on how the US and partners such as Australia should seek to influence Japan's direction.

Mike Green is well placed to make such observations; he served as a senior adviser on Asia policy in the George W Bush Administration and is Vice-President for Asia and Japan Chair at CSIS, as well as a nonresident fellow at the Lowy Institute. I spoke with Mike recently about his Japan research, and about the directions of Asia policy under Australia's new government, led by a prime minister who has described Japan as Australia's 'best friend in Asia'.