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No.34
No.34 ,Politics  Oct 25, 2016

Interpreting the Upper House Elections: Two concerns about maintaining the status quo
― Sustaining social security and Japan’s policy towards China

Tanaka Naoki, President, Center for International Public Policy Studies

The Upper House elections saw a fourth consecutive national election victory for Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. On the domestic front, one of the reasons behind voters’ decision was down to expectations of the Japanese market broadening its horizons, as a result of current economic policy and progress with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. In particular, domestic restrictions standing in the way of the TPP would have remained unresolved under any administration other than Abe. Another reason why voters chose to retain the current administration was down to fundamental concerns regarding Japan’s involvement in the international community. Amidst growing friction with the likes of China and South Korea, there has inevitably been a degree of reluctance to criticize the government at home. ... [Read more]

No.34
No.34 ,Politics  Oct 16, 2016

Interpreting the Upper House Elections: Please don’t squander your political capital, Prime Minister!
―Putting growth strategies and fiscal health ahead of constitutional reform

Both the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito emerged victorious from the Upper House elections. In addition to the decision to delay an increase in consumption tax, voters sided with the Abe administration’s diplomatic and security policies, including related legislation, as well as the government’s economic and social policies. In this article, I would like to take a look at future political issues from the point of view of domestic affairs. By way of a conclusion, I would like to see Prime Minister Abe Shinzo prioritize growth strategies, including deregulation, and fiscal health ahead of constitutional reform. The LDP has restored a single-party majority in both houses for the first time in twenty-seven years. Prime Minister Abe has now won four national elections in succession, thereby establishing an even stronger power base for his administration. Komeito appears to have lost some of its say within the administration. Nonetheless, the LDP... [Read more]

No.28
No.28 ,Politics  Sep 16, 2015

Evaluating the Statement made by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo

KAMIYA Matake, Professor, National Defense Academy of Japan

I read the statement made by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo on August 14 (http://japan.kantei.go.jp/97_abe/statement/201508/0814statement.html) with a lot of sympathy. That is because Abe was successful in making a renewed appeal to the international community that Japan has adopted a completely different approach after World War II from that which it pursued before and during the war, and in taking the opportunity to establish future-oriented policies while making it clear that Japan is not turning its back on the past. To fully understand the Statement, it helps to know that it is based on the three speeches Prime Minister Abe has made since the summer of 2014; namely, the speech he made at the Australian Parliament on July 8, 2014 ... [Read more]

No.28
No.28 ,Politics  Sep 10, 2015

“Security” or “Constitution” – Don’t Fall Between Two Stools

YOSHIZAKI Tatsuhiko, Economist

The former ambassador for Thailand, Okazaki Hisahiko , who passed away last fall, always used to give his “Assessment of the Current International Affairs” at a forum held by the Okazaki Institute every spring. In spring 2013, after the start of the second Abe administration, he said something like this. “Conservatives in Japan have two causes. One is to amend the historical perception of the Japanese. The other is to establish a better security policy. They cannot do both at the same time. If we had to choose between them, security policy must surely be given greater priority at the moment.” In other words, if we focus on the problem of historical perceptions, such as the issue of Prime Minister’s official visits to Yasukuni Shrine, ... [Read more]

No.28
No.28 ,Politics  Jul 20, 2015

Paper Commemorating Receipt of the 30th Seiron Prize
Comfort Women in the Battle over History

The battle over history started by South Korea and China continues to get worse. Is there any prospect of Japan mounting a counterattack?

Modern Historian Hata Ikuhiko

The “Narrow Road to the Interior” in Japan-South Korea relations seems, all of a sudden, to have turned into a frozen road. Some have apparently observed that the two countries have entered an ice age. At any rate, given that the South Korean President has gone so far as to publicly declare that “The dynamic of (Japan) being the aggressor and (Korea) being the victim will never change, even after the passage of a thousand years,” it stands to reason that there is also no prospect of the ice melting, right? ... [Read more]

No.25
No.25 ,Politics  May 27, 2015

Dull Bull/ Philosopher Prime Minster and Intellectuals Looking at the Prime Minster Ohira Policy Research Council

UNO Shigeki, Professor, Institute of Social Science, the University of Tokyo

The first Ohira Masayoshi Cabinet was established in December 1978. At the beginning of his policy address to the Diet on 25 January 25 1979, Prime Minister Ohira made the following statement:
In the more than 30 years that have passed since the end of World War II, Japan has focused single-mindedly on achieving economic affluence, and as a nation we have produced remarkable results. This represents the positive outcome of efforts that have continued for the 100 years since the Meiji period to modernize and model our country after Western nations. (Snip) However, we cannot really say that we have given our full attention to the harmony between man and nature, the balance between freedom and responsibility, and the purpose of life deeply rooted in our spirit. Today,... [Read more]

No.24
No.24 ,Politics  May 07, 2015

A Diet Dissolution Solely for Survival Is the Root of All Evil for Japanese Politics
Refrain from arrogance, Mr. Abe

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo held a press conference on the evening of November 18 (2014) and postponed a hike in the consumption tax to 10% by a year and a half, along with asking for a decision by the people and calling for a dissolution of the lower house of parliament. I was frankly disappointed when I watched this press conference live on television. Although rumors of a dissolution had been circulating since around the end of October, I thought, “there is no way.” I was disappointed because Abe decided to choose a course that I had thought “should in no way happen.” I had various views about the Abe administration’s individual policies, but also had great expectations for them. This was because his administration had created a precedent and made it customary to steer policies that looked five and ten years beyond, enabling politics and citizens to share a long-term time line.... [Read more]

No.24
No.24 ,Politics  May 07, 2015

Political Scientist Sasaki Takeshi’s Analytical Paper Entitled “Refrain from Arrogance, Mr. Abe: A “Clinical Diagnosis” of the Abenomics Diet Dissolution

Unexpectedly, there have been fewer commentaries on the results of the 47th House of Representatives Election held on 14 December 2014 than on the size of the impact of the Diet dissolution. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won 291 seats, including additional endorsements, resulting in losing four seats compared to before the official election announcement. However, Komeito won 35 seats with 4 more seats compared to before the official election announcement. These results show that the ruling coalition government has maintained its seats. The number goes far beyond the absolute stable majority (266 seats) in the House of Representatives and makes up more than two-thirds of all seats. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) gained 73 seats and increased its seats from the last drubbing in 2012 (57 seats), but gave the impression that the party was far from being able to come back to power. These election results indicate a strange situation in which the ruling party is enjoying a victory despite the loss of seats and the opposition party is discussing its organizational reconstruction in spite of an increase in seats. The election is, therefore, curious enough to attract comments.... [Read more]

No.24
No.24 ,Politics  Jan 14, 2015

A former admiral who struggled in logistics support in the Afghan Wars speaks out. Right of Collective Self-defense — Politicians don’t understand the real war.

Attacks on U.S. ships, missiles launched by North Korea… In real wars, what happens all the time is the unexpected. Can we be bound by an armchair theory?
The issue of the right of collective self-defense is complex, however, and the media coverage of the matter is often unrealistic due to an overemphasis on its legal aspects. I assume that this makes it difficult for the general public to understand the pros and cons of exercising this right.The Cabinet of the Japanese government is expected to resolve changes to the nation’s constitutional interpretation in order to permit the exercise of the right of collective self-defense. Until I retired from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in 2008 as a commander of a Self-Defense Force fleet, I spent many years carrying ... [Read more]

No.24
No.24 ,Politics  Jan 13, 2015

The Expansionism of China and Russia: The Second Coming of Imperialism?
The Legitimacy of an International Order is Put to the Test
Illusion of imperialism: Some countries chase it, while others fear it

NAKANISHI Hiroshi, Professor, Graduate School of Law, Kyoto University

From the Age of Negotiations to the Age of Power Politics
President Vladimir Putin of Russia visited Shanghai on May 20 and 21, 2014. During his visit, Putin had a summit meeting with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China. The news media distributed photographs of the two leaders firmly shaking hands all around the world. At the summit, the two heads of state declared a full-scale partnership and new-level strategic cooperative ties between Russia and China. After their talk, Putin and Xi issued a joint statement covering points such as their united opposition to attempts to falsify history and disturb the postwar world order, and the Russo-Chinese co-sponsorship of an event in 2015 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory over German... [Read more]

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