Can you name any of the post WWII Japanese Prime Ministers? Congratulations if you said Abe Shinzo (the most recent well-known PM). Shame on you if managed any others because you probably Googled it. Apologies to any aficionados of Japanese politics. Other search engines are available.

If we think of a range of other countries leaders over the past few decades – names come easily: Mitterrand, Kohl, Berlusconi, Nehru, Zuma,  Brezhnev, Carter, Jintao etc, but Japan? Miyazawa? Hatoyama?  No, me neither. This is probably because Japanese leaders often do not seek the limelight on the international stage, even if their position makes them a heavyweight in global affairs. Japan has the world’s third largest economy, is a member of the G7, has a population of 126 million, and possesses a formidable military which is allied with the United States.  Now though, as we increasingly focus on the Asia-Pacific region we may become more accustomed to their names and faces.