“Japan is trying to expand its influence to Serbia, the Japan Times is reporting in the wake of Japanese Prime Minister’s tour of Eastern Europe.

And ‘the actual motive behind (Shinzo) Abe’s visit to Belgrade had more to do with the close relationship, established over the past five years, between Serbia and China,’ Liubomir Topaloff from the Meiji University writes in a commentary published on the newspaper’s website, cited by Beta.

‘While the details regarding the respective strategies of both China and Japan in the western Balkans still unclear, the region is a potential battleground for a number of global actors – China, Japan, the EU, and potentially Russia and the United States – seeking to flex their soft power muscles (and perhaps more),’ he writes.

According to the article, ‘the hope is that this competition could prove beneficial for the region, but it also runs the risk of destabilizing the Balkans, and plunging it into greater turmoil.’

The actual motive behind Abe’s visit to Belgrade had more to do with the close relationship, established over the past five years, between Serbia and China, Topaloff said, noting that the country is an important part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road initiative – ‘the modern day Silk Road.'” (InSerbia)