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No.11
No.11 ,Politics  May 28, 2012

THE SITUATION IS GROWING WORSE

Photo : Sakurada Jun

What is most interesting in referring to the mood of the time when the Bungeishunju article titled Nihon no jisatsu (“Japan’s Suicide”) was released in February 1975 is the fact that it was followed by the release of numerous books analyzing the rise of Japan as an economic power. Bunmei to shite no ieshakai [House society as a culture] (Murakami Yasusuke, Kumon Shunpei, Sato Seizaburo, 1979) and Japan as Number One (Ezra Vogel, 1979) are two such examples. “Japan’s Suicide” was a sort of prophecy indicated in the era of Japan’s rise, but has reading value in the era of recession, such as we have today. People living in the current age should reread this Cassandra’s prophecy of an article with the following two points in mind.... [Read more]

No.11
No.11 ,Politics  May 27, 2012

COUNTERING PANEM ET CIRCENSES IN THE 21ST CENTURY–FOR THE REEMERGENCE OF QUALITY INTELLECT

Photo : Yamauchi Masayuki

Nihon no jisatsu (“Japan’s Suicide”) is quite an evocative title. Few writings have foreseen the pathology that Japan would suffer in the 21th century as accurately as this. This article written by Group 1984, an anonymous group of conservative intellectuals in Japan, was published in the February 1975 edition of the monthly literary magazine Bungeishunju. It argues that Japan should learn lessons from the experience of the Romans, who at a time were industrious but grew absorbed in consumption and asserted their rights so strongly that they forgot their obligations, and ultimately vanished from history in exchange for prosperity. The cautionary words seeking an example from history drew a strong response in Japanese society at that... [Read more]

No.11
No.11 ,Politics  May 25, 2012

PEACE FOR PROSPERITY OR WAR FOR SUFFERING

Photo : Niwa Uichiro

Reflecting on the Senkaku Boat Collision Incident – Almost a year and a half have passed since you were appointed as the ambassador to China in July 2010, the first ambassador from the private sector since the end of World War II. During this period, a series of critical issues took place, including the collision of a Chinese trawler with Japanese Coast Guard patrol boats near the Senkaku Islands; the detention of Japanese construction company employees in China; and the suspension of rare earth mineral exports to Japan. How do you look back on this time?... [Read more]

No.11
No.11 ,Politics  May 23, 2012

DIALOG BETWEEN JAPAN, UNITED STATES AND CHINA THE ASIA PACIFIC ORDER AND NETWORK DIPLOMACY

NAKANISHI Hiroshi: At the end of last year, on December 19th, news broke that Secretary-General Kim Jong-il, the leader of North Korea, had died on December 17th.What action did you take? GEMBA Koichiro: I was in Washington, D.C. in the United States at the time, but I was notified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo that North Korea would transmit a “special broadcast” from noon Japan time on the 19th, so I instructed the Vice-Minister to take adequate measures, including information gathering. In addition, after the announcement of the death of Commander-in-chief Kim Jong-il, I once again instructed the Vice-Minister to reinforce the information-gathering activity and to make absolutely sure nothing was omitted so that we could respond to any situation. Vice-Minister Yamane reported these instructions to Prime Minister Noda at a meeting of the Security Council of Japan held on that ... ... [Read more]

No.10
No.10 ,Politics ,Discussions  Mar 31, 2012

TIME FOR JAPAN TO SHOW THE WORLD HOW TO OVERCOME CHALLENGES: PRIME MINISTER NODA, BE PREPARED TO ALWAYS STAY ON THE BATTLEFIELD.

Photo : Nakasone Yasuhiro

Rapid repair and strengthening of ties with the United States needed I recently enjoyed a visit from Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko, giving me the opportunity to speak with him. The prime minister has famously described himself as a loach, setting an image for himself that is in sharp contrast with that of former prime ministers Hatoyama Yukio and Kan Naoto. Noda seems keen to get off to a good start with a modest and cautious approach to dealing with the twisted Diet. During the course of our conversation, I told him that I supported this approach and said that his administration could have staying power if Noda handles government effectively. I’m worried that Japanese politics is at risk of... [Read more]

No.10
No.10 ,Politics  Mar 30, 2012

KIM JONG-UN REGIME AND DRASTIC GLOBAL CHANGES IN 2012

Photo : Funabashi Yoichi

In describing the Soviet Union when President Mikhail Gorbachev was pursuing perestroika, Margaret Thatcher once said, “Ice becomes in its most dangerous state when melting.” The death of Kim Jong-il somewhat reminded me of Thatcher’s words. The Achilles heel of a totalitarian state is power succession, and North Korea is now entering that most fragile period of dictatorship. What sorts of impacts will Kim Jong-il’s death bring to Japan and the world? There are three points to consider. First, what was left as the legacy of Kim Jong-il’s regime? And what does it mean that his third son and successor,... [Read more]

No.10
No.10 ,Politics  Mar 29, 2012

“HASHIMOTO REFORM” HAS A PARTICULAR ABILITY TO SAVE JAPAN

Photo : Sakaiya Taichi

Fierce double election ends – Osaka Restoration Association overwhelms The Osaka “double election” held last November 27 to elect the governor of Osaka Prefecture and the mayor of the City of Osaka was intensely fought. National newspapers and television networks reported constantly on the event and news magazines ran numerous special reports, all focusing their attention on mayoral candidate Hashimoto Toru (former Osaka Prefecture governor). It had been a while since an election for a head of a regional Japanese government had garnered so much national attention,... [Read more]

No.10
No.10 ,Politics  Mar 28, 2012

TO OVERCOME REPEATED “NATIONAL CRISES”

Photo : Ishihara Nobuo

As a deputy chief cabinet secretary, I served seven prime ministers from Takeshita Noboru to Murayama Tomiichi. During this period, I worked hard to introduce the consumption tax, was preoccupied with reconstruction from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and was stuck around the clock in negotiations with the United States, including the Japan-U.S. Structural Impediments Initiative and the Uruguay Round. The Democratic Party of Japan is facing many political challenges, and its ability is being tested. There is a strong debate over whether to raise the consumption tax rate to enable fiscal reconstruction. Reconstruction from the Great East Japan... [Read more]

No.20
No.10 ,Politics  Mar 26, 2012

TOKYO: THE 3/11 GENERATION

Photo : Dr. Guy Sorman

Let me first admit that as the author of this article I will not be impartial, because I love and have known Japan for almost fifty years. I owe this passion to moviemaker Kurosawa Akira. I had the honor to meet him, long after Rashomon, his masterpiece, allowed me to discover the essence of cinema. Rashomon had encouraged me, as a young Parisian student, to learn Japanese – albeit not proficiently – but also to venture, with somewhat more success, into the study of Japanese civilization. My passion was later legitimated by my maître à penser (intellectual model), the great French anthropologist Claude... [Read more]

No.9
No.9 ,Politics  Jan 28, 2012

JAPAN NEW PARTY MARKED THE TURNING POINT

Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of the German Empire, famously said, “Fools say they learn from experience; I prefer to learn from the experience of others.” What has led to the current confusion in Japanese politics? Two guest commentators from Asahi Journal known for their discussions in Kokkai tsushinbo [National Diet report card] reflect on Japanese political parties over the 20 years since 1992 to look for the roots of this disarray. MIKURIYA Takashi: Today we would like to reflect on political parties in the past 20 years, including those that are now defunct, and their relation to politics. My hope is that by looking at what each party did and the policies they achieved, and evaluating them and gauging their historical significance, we can identify the structural problems in today’s government.... [Read more]

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