Politics | Discuss Japan-Japan Foreign Policy Forum - Part 5

Archives : Politics

Nos.13-15, Politics  Mar. 6, 2013

(JAPAN POLITICS CHANGED?) Overly Pessimistic View Unnecessary for Japan’s Future

Photo : Akashi Yasushi

Japan’s Diminishing Presence As a Japanese and someone interested in international relations, I am disappointed at the current stagnation in Japanese politics. These short-lived governments come and go, failing to show any vision of the role Japan should play in the international community. In addition, the Japanese economy is not performing well. The negative influence caused by the frequent changes in political leadership has been pointed out by foreign countries as well. Japan used to hear the fad term “Japan Bashing” as a criticism of it when it had influence on the world stage. There were... [Read more]

Nos.13-15, Politics  Mar. 6, 2013

(JAPAN POLITICS CHANGED?) New Administration Should Make Use of 2/3 Majorityin Lower House

Photo : Machidori Satoshi

Key points: –LDP’s landslide election victory mainly ascribable to mixed electoral system –Unstable decision-making process is a political problem for Japan –New government should set policy priorities and utilize advisory panels The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the New Komeito party jointly won more than 320 seats in the latest election for the House of Representatives, achieving a change of power after three years and four months of government by the Democratic Party of... [Read more]

Nos.13-15, Politics  Mar. 5, 2013

(RIGHT TILT?) Is “Japan Moves to Right” True? Second Abe Administration Faces Test of Realism

Photo : Matsumoto Kenichi

Major Western media, such as The Washington Post and Time magazine in the United States, and Focus magazine in Germany, carried stories on “Japan’s shift to the right” following the Asahi Shimbun newspaper’s report in July 2012 on the Japanese government’s “nationalization” of the Senkuku Islands, and especially after the Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) landslide victory in the election for the House of Representatives on Dec. 16. Not only China and South Korea but many other countries around the world began to say, “Japan is moving to the right.” One factor behind such overseas media reports on “Japan’s shift to the right” is Japan’s insufficient explanatory capacity... [Read more]

Nos.13-15, Politics  Mar. 5, 2013

(RIGHT TILT?) Does Shinzo Abe’s Election Really Herald a More Militarist Japan?

Photo : Aida Hiro

Is Japan drifting to the right? The ongoing dispute between China and Japan over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea (known in China as the Diaoyu Islands) has triggered a debate about the trajectory of Japanese politics, and the return to power of the old guard Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has further enlivened it. Moreover, as LDP’s comeback kid, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is such a self-assertive figure that the argument has become inflamed. The Japanese and international media have already concluded the matter, coalescing around the idea that Japan is presently undergoing a shift to the right. But the truth is not so simple, and this consensus conclusion is neither accurate nor useful.... [Read more]

Nos.13-15, Politics  Mar. 5, 2013

(RIGHT TILT?) The Twisted Truth About Tokyo

Photo : Yokoda Takashi (L) J. Berkshire Miller (R)

Interest overseas in Japan’s foreign policy – once a dormant topic – has gained steam over the past year as Tokyo sparred with old rivals over its territory and history. Add to that the return of the conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the international media is rife with “analysis” speculating that pacifist Japan wants to rewrite wartime history, change its Self-Defense Forces into a trigger-happy fighting machine and turn East Asia into a powder keg–all under the scary regime of Shinzo Abe. The Korea Times ran a panicky editorial just prior to last year’s election that Abe’s return to the Prime Minister’s Office... [Read more]

No.11, Politics, Discussions  May. 31, 2012


It was the spring of 1974 when I read the article by Group 1984 for the first time. I was on the Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train), on my way back to Tokyo from Kansai. The article was titled “Criticism of the Japanese Communist Party’s Platform for the United Democratic Government,” and had been handed to me by Mr. Yamazaki Masakazu, Professor Emeritus at Osaka University. He said that I would find it interesting. I looked to see who the author was. It was co-written by Group 1984. I immediately understood that the group was named after the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four written by George Orwell. This novel is about a dystopian, highly controlled society set in the near future. At the time of its publication, it was also seen as a criticism of socialism as well as of a technostress society. I thought that the ... ... [Read more]

No.11, Politics  May. 29, 2012


The oldest civilization we know of dates back no more than 6,000 years. During these 6,000 years, 21 civilizations emerged, including Minoan, Sumerian, Mayan, Indian, Chinese, Syrian, Hittite, Babylonian, Andean, Mexican, Yucatan, Egyptian, Hindu, Iranian, Arabian, Hellenic, Western European, Byzantine and Far Eastern. They developed, and in time some declined and vanished. According to Arnold Joseph Toynbee, the seven civilizations still surviving in the 20th century are Western civilization, the main body of orthodox Christians in the Near East, a branch of orthodox Christians in Russia, Islamic, Hindu, the main body of Far Eastern society in China, and a branch of Far Eastern society in Japan. There are also three groups that stopped developing – Polynesians, Aleut, and nomads. Does the historic drama of the rise and fall of these 21 civilizations over the past 6,000 years and comparative studies among... [Read more]

No.11, Politics  May. 28, 2012


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, Politics  May. 27, 2012


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, Politics  May. 25, 2012


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]