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Politics, No.38  Apr. 10, 2017

Passing Down The Significance of President Obama’s Visit to The Future

I thought that it would be the last chance. In May 2016, then U.S. President Barack Obama visited Hiroshima. Because I was convinced that a visit to Hiroshima from the president of the United States would be a historic event and the chance for such a visit would be strong while President Obama was in office, we continued to work for several years to realize the presidential visit. When it was decided that the Summit would be held in Japan in the year that President Obama leaves office, I thought that it would be the last chance for him to visit Hiroshima. Looking back, the first step was taken when former U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos, who took office in 2009, participated in the Peace Memorial Ceremony on August 6, 2010. We had also been advised that it would be better if a ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.34  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

< Key Points > Difficult international conditions forcing a decision on maintaining the status quo Need to take political action to avoid the collapse of the universal pension and health insurance system Diplomatic measures to prevent issues surrounding the Senkaku Islands from escalating into military conflict 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 ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.34  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

< Key Points > Important to push ahead with the TPP, deregulation and infrastructure development Need to think rationally about whether constitutional reform is really a top priority DP needs to set out economic policies to put pressure on LPD 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 ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.28  Sept. 16, 2015

Evaluating the Statement made by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo

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 (http://japan.kantei.go.jp/96_abe/statement/201407/0708article1.html); the speech he made at the Asian-African Summit 2015, a summit meeting held in Jakarta to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of the Asian-African Conference ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.28  Sept. 10, 2015

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

YOSHIZAKI Tatsuhiko, Chief Economist, Sojitz Research Institute, Ltd.

The former ambassador for Thailand, Okazaki Hisahiko[1], 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, we will alienate public opinion in the United States. And if that happens, we will no longer be able to ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.28  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”[1] 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? Although the matter should have been left as it was since there are no vital interests at stake, the Abe Administration has invited President Park Geun-hye to an unconditional summit, but she refuses to budge. As recently as the second half of 2014, Tokyo Governor Masuzoe Yoichi, former Prime Minister Mori Yoshiro and ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.25  May. 27, 2015

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

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]

Politics, No.24  May. 7, 2015

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

Steer policies by looking ten years ahead: I cannot help but regret that such opportune timing was abandoned.   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 ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.24  May. 7, 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 ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.24  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.

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]