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No.61, Politics  Oct. 22, 2020

Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide’s “Plan for the New Administration”: The COVID-19 National Crisis: A Political Vacuum Is Impermissible

Suga Yoshihide, Cabinet Chief Secretary (currently Prime Minister of Japan)   Editor’s note: Following the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Abe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide (now prime minister) outlined his “Plan for the New Administration” in this article published in the run-up to the LDP presidential election held to replace Abe.     As Japan is currently facing a national crisis in the fight against COVID-19 and leadership is needed to deal with the challenge of the compatibility between preventing the spread of infections and socio-economic activities, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo suddenly announced his resignation for health reasons. I can only imagine what regret the prime minister must be feeling as he steps down from the great mission of commanding the troops. Right up until Prime Minister Abe announced his resignation, I was saying that “I’m not thinking about running.” The question was ... ... [Read more]

No.61, Politics  Sept. 29, 2020

Challenges Exposed by COVID-19: Forward-Leaning Experts and Recoiling Politics

Makihara Izuru, Professor, Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST), University of Tokyo People’s Anger without an Outlet Amid rapidly rising numbers of people infected with coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the declaration of a state of emergency was issued in seven prefectures on April 7 and then applied nationwide on April 16. Yet the infectious spread did not stop and the declaration was extended until May 31 on May 4. The following day, on May 5, I was met with a bizarre sight at a drug store on the outskirts of Tokyo that I happened to visit. The shelves were almost completely empty of face masks, antiseptics, toilet paper, tissue paper, and even soap. In that crowded space, people’s eyes appeared somehow filled with desperation and gone was the carefree atmosphere that usually exists. The declaration of a state of emergency was subsequently lifted ... ... [Read more]

No.57, Politics  Apr. 1, 2020

In Memory of Former Prime Minister Nakasone Yasuhiro: My Sworn Friend for More than Sixty Years, a Selfless and Studious Person

Endless affection and respect Mr. Nakasone Yasuhiro (1918–2019) has passed away. I had known him for more than sixty years, and on the day of his demise, I said that his death brought as much shock as when my parents died. I have endless affection and respect for him. Mr. Nakasone was eager to learn and always had policy in mind. Unlike many other politicians, he thought about the policies first, before factional affairs and management. He thought intensely about how to hone and realize these policies. He also listened to what other people said and did not cling to fixed ideas, while strongly believing in his own philosophy. Otherwise, he could not have accomplished so much as a politician. When he was young, he was a fairly right-leaning politician but he transformed. He said of himself, “I am for modified capitalism.” From afar, ... ... [Read more]

No.56, Politics  Mar. 10, 2020

Democracy Is Not Forever: The Eventual Destruction of Democracy by the Fears of the Masses

Japan Is a Global “Sub-leader” In December 2019, Japan Akademeia, of which I am the co-president, hosted the First Tokyo Conference. Japan Akademeia is an organization founded in 2012 for the purpose of being a hub through which politicians, business leaders and bureaucrats can network and the different spheres become interconnected. 2019 was a critical juncture commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the end of the Cold War. In connection with this, we held a discussion on the theme “Changes in the Global Power Structure and the Future of Global Governance,” with the participation of Dr. Jacques Attali, a French economic scholar and thinker, and Dr. Graham Allison, an American political scientist and professor at Harvard University. It was extremely edifying to meet these intellectual giants of Europe and North America. Dr. Allison’s analysis was that newly emerging states would attempt to become the new ... ... [Read more]

No.53, Politics  Sept. 24, 2019

Upper House Election in the Year of the Pig with No Losers—Opposition parties fought well, while continuing to lend a hand to the LDP

No political parties were defeated “Voters told us to advance policies firmly based on a stable political base.” —Abe Shinzo, President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) “We were able to achieve our goals.” —Yamaguchi Natsuo, President of Komeito “We fought desperately with no regrets.” —Matsui Ichiro, President of the Japan Innovation Party (JIP) “We made remarkable progress and were able to build a significant foundation for the next election.” —Tamaki Yuichiro, Leader of the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) “We were able to increase our number of seats significantly.” —Edano Yukio, Leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) “On the whole, we fought a good fight.” —Shii Kazuo, Chairman of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP)   These remarks show how the leaders of the main political parties evaluated their election results on the night of the last House of Councilors ... ... [Read more]

Discussions, No.51, Politics  Mar. 31, 2019

Thirty years of clambering up and slipping back down— A comprehensive look back at the Heisei period

  What kind of period was Heisei (1989–2019) Kitaoka Shinichi: My image of the Heisei period is of a crab at the bottom of a washbowl trying to climb up but then slipping and falling right back down. Heisei began with the bubble bursting in 1991 (Heisei 3) and Japan tried to respond to it in various ways. Although there was political reform and administrative reform, the Asian currency crisis came in ’97, before these trials showed any effect, and it looked like it was all over for Japan. But in 2001, Koizumi Junichiro appeared as Prime Minister, promised to “destroy the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP),” and became hugely popular. Yet the LDP wasn’t particularly destroyed, and it’s hard to say that anything has moved forward. Then in 2008 there was the global financial crisis, and in 2011 the Great East Japan Earthquake and ... ... [Read more]

No.51, Politics  Feb. 6, 2019

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo Heads into Third Consecutive Term as President of the Liberal Democratic Party (Part 2) – Placing Importance on a Strong Base of Support, and Obstacles to Creating a Legacy

Key Points Koizumi’s priority was to escape from factionalism, while Abe’s is intraparty appeasement Even in implementing reforms, there is awareness of avoiding impact to the existing LDP organization Constitutional amendment is a barrier to national referendum for creating a lasting legacy President of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Prime Minister of Japan Abe Shinzo has successfully won his third leadership election. Although LDP Secretary General Ishiba Shigeru received attention for putting up a good fight, looking at things in perspective it was a major victory for Prime Minister Abe, who gained almost 70% of the votes. The important point is that this victory has increased the possibility of Prime Minister Abe achieving the longest period in office as Prime Minister in the history of Japanese constitutional politics. The background to Prime Minister Abe’s strength—as demonstrated by the determination of policies led by ... ... [Read more]

No.51, Politics  Feb. 4, 2019

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo Heads into Third Consecutive Term as President of the Liberal Democratic Party (Part 1) – The Two Faces of the Abe Administration: Can the Divergence Be Stopped?

  Key Points There are noticeable differences in the administration’s “two faces” in handling domestic and foreign affairs The administration has lost its unity/cohesion since the second half of his second term They must show us a way to a sustainable economic structure and social security system Prime Minister Abe Shinzo defeated LDP Secretary General Ishiba Shigeru in a recent leadership election to achieve his third victory and secure his position as Party President for a third term. The only others to have won three or more leadership elections in the past (even including uncontested reelections and extensions of term) are Ikeda Hayato, Sato Eisaku, Nakasone Yasuhiro and Koizumi Junichiro; all prime ministers who built and defined their generations. If things continue smoothly as they are, Prime Minister Abe’s current tenure as Prime Minister will continue until September 2021, having lasted a total of ... ... [Read more]

No.50, Politics  Nov. 5, 2018

A Look Back at the Summing Up on the Special Abdication Law

  Speaker of the House of Representatives Oshima Tadamori (72) was first elected in 1983, and has been elected a total eleven consecutive times. He has served as both Minister of Education and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. He also spent a record 1,430 days as Chairman of the LDP Diet Affairs Committee. More recently, Oshima, with Vice Speaker, President and Vice President of House of Councillors, led a cross-party discussion group of party Diet Affairs Committee Heads set up to devise a bill to address the abdication of his majesty the Emperor. Making ample use of the skills he had honed during his time heading the Diet Affairs Committee, Oshima succeeded in building agreement between ruling and opposition parties. In this article, Oshima looks back at the days leading up to the creation of the bill. In August 2016, his majesty the ... ... [Read more]

No.50, Politics  Oct. 21, 2018

Meiji 150: From Steam to MagLev

Underpinning the modernization of Japanese industry were its railways. Work started on Japan’s railways during the Meiji period (1868–1912), with the help of the British. While playing a supporting role in industrial development, the railways developed chiefly around passenger transport. These days, Japan has started to export railway technology, and is contributing to the development of railways in other countries, including the UK, the birthplace of rail travel. 24.598 billion. That’s the number of people who used railways across Japan in fiscal 2016, accounting for roughly 40% of all rail travel worldwide. With 214 operators covering a total distance of approximately 28,120 kilometers, the Japanese rail network provides support for passengers traveling around metropolitan areas, from major cities out to the suburbs, and between cities. With most of the country’s population concentrated in its cities, that is where there are most rail services, providing ... ... [Read more]