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Politics, No.23  Sept. 25, 2014

Japanese Public Opinions about the Exercise of the Right of Collective Self-Defense

For many years, the Japanese government has taken the position that as a sovereign state Japan naturally has the right of collective self-defense under international law, but that the Constitution of Japan prohibits the exercise of that right. On July 1, however, Abe Shinzo’s cabinet made the important decision to change this constitutional interpretation. The cabinet decision says that if an armed attack against a foreign country that is in a close relationship with Japan threatens Japan’s security, Japan’s limited exercise of the right of collective self-defense will not violate Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan. A document titled “Cabinet Decision on Development of Seamless Security Legislation to Ensure Japan’s Survival and Protect its People” [http://japan.kantei.go.jp/96_abe/decisions/2014/__icsFiles/afieldfile/2014/07/03/anpohosei_eng.pdf] describes the condition for Japan’s exercise of the right of collective self-defense as follows:   . . . not only when an armed attack against Japan occurs ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.20  Mar. 26, 2014

Diplomacy toward China and Republic of Korea, the Defense Secrecy Law, TPP, Consumption Tax Measures This is how the Abe Administration will change Japan in 2014 — Resolute about realizing measures to tackle deflation and fiscal reform and will not be a case of “he who runs for two hares catches nothing”

SUGA Yoshihide, Chief Cabinet Secretary

A year has passed since the second Abe administration was formed. My genuine feeling is: “A whole year has already gone by.” Looking back, the Liberal Democratic Party returned to power in the general election held on December 16 in the year before last and the Cabinet was formed as the year-end loomed on December 26. Since then, I have been continuously moving forward without a single day’s break for one year.    The character wa was selected as the kanji of the year in 2013, and when I was asked about my kanji of the year at a press conference, my response was soku (at once). It was because the year was marked by sokudan sokketsu (make a snap decision) and soku jikkou (take immediate action). The first Abe administration, unfortunately, was forced to dissolve in one year, but the second administration, having completed ... ... [Read more]

Discussions, Politics, No.19  Mar. 25, 2014

A direct proposition to the “long-term” Abe administration Crisis leadership: Nankai Trough, sub-Tokyo earthquake… Voicing the limits to the Self-Defense Forces out loud

ORIKI Ryoichi Former Chief of Staff, Joint Staff

  They cannot do what they did after the Great East Japan Earthquake for all earthquakes. State risks require preparations on the part of autonomies and citizens. ORIKI Ryoichi Former Chief of Staff, Joint Staff Funabashi Yoichi has interviewed a number of people for this magazine (Bungeishunju) on the topic of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident and crisis leadership – writer Hando Kazutoshi (June 2013), former Chief of Fukushima No.2 Nuclear Power Plant Masuda Takahiro (August 2013), and Charles Casto of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (October 2013). On this occasion, he meets former Joint Staff’s Chief of Staff Oriki Ryoichi, who was head of the army, naval and air forces at the time as the leader of the Self-Defense Forces’ uniformed personnel, to discuss the role of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in this incident and leadership as its former commander. FUNABASHI Yoichi ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.19  Mar. 10, 2014

On the New National Defense Program Guidelines

YAMAGUCHI Noboru, Professor, National Defense Academy of Japan

On December 17, 2014, the Government of Japan (GOJ) released two key documents for its national security policy: the National Security Strategy (NSS) and the new National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG). The NDPG proposes Japan’s defense strategy and policies to implement the strategy including the structure and posture of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) with a time span of at least ten years. The first NDPG was issued in 1976 and the GOJ has revised it in 1995, 2004 and 2010. The new NDPG has several remarkable characteristics: it is the first NDPG developed under a new document, the “National Security Strategy”; it contains several key phrases such as “proactive contribution to peace,” “Dynamic Joint Defense Force,” and “Seamless response to various situations including so-called ‘gray-zone’ situations”; and it gives serious consideration to the two most important factors in the strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.18  Jan. 21, 2014

Concerns over Abenomics Regarding Projects to “Build National Resilience” Increasing Government Spending Again Will Do Little to Solve Anything

KOMINE Takao Professor at the Graduate School of Regional Policy Design at Hosei University; Project Leader at the 21st Century Public Policy Institute

Japan’s regional areas are currently suffering from a declining economy, while the phenomenon of underpopulation is making matters even worse in those areas. One possible solution that has been presented to solve this problem calls for increasing public works spending, supported by the idea of “Building National Resilience.” This government strategy, however, which aims to revitalize regional communities through the help of large-scale infrastructure investment, appears to be going against the long-time social trend, and I am concerned that it will have the opposite effect and end up hampering the emerging community-driven initiatives to revive the economy and business in those regions. Japan’s regional areas are plagued by a “population onus” Currently, a population onus is taking place all across Japan. Let me briefly explain what a “population onus” is, as this concept doesn’t seem to be well known to the general public. The ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.18  Jan. 20, 2014

Establish National Targets to Halt Population Decline Follow France’s Example and Stabilize Population at 90 Million *1

IWATA Kazumasa, Japan Center for Economic Research (JCER) President

Overview Japan is likely to tip into fiscal collapse due to rising tax and social security burdens in the future, or Japan’s standard of living is likely to erode. At the root of the problem lies population decline. If no action is taken, the population will shrink to 30% of its present size in 100 years and to around 10% of its current size in 200 years, and Japan’s presence in the international community will gradually diminish. To avoid such a situation, the Japan Center for Economic Research proposes the establishment of national population targets, aimed at raising the birthrate over the course of forty years and maintaining a stable population of 90 million. We propose combining this with a policy of opening up Japan and inviting people, expertise and investment from overseas.    ■ Fig. 1 Halt population decline and aging   Source: ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.18  Jan. 20, 2014

The Death of Regional Cities: A horrendous simulation Regional Cities Will Disappear by 2040 A Polarized Society will Emerge

MASUDA Hiroya, Visiting Professor, The University of Tokyo Graduate School

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Politics, No.17  Nov. 27, 2013

Abe Shinzo’s Security Policy

IWAMA Yoko, Professor of International Relations, National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS)

During Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s visit to the United States in September 2013, he described his plan to modernize Japan’s security policy, which he says is one of his top priorities. Professor Iwama Yoko, professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, an editor of Discuss Japan, and a member of the Abe administration’s Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security, explains “active pacifism,” a key phrase in Mr. Abe’s speeches, its background, and the historical background of the security policy that Mr. Abe aims to develop. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo gave speeches at the Hudson Institute, the New York Stock Exchange, and the UN General Assembly on September 25 and 26, indicating the Prime Minister’s strong interest in improving his image in the United States. Of these three speeches, his speech at the UN General Assembly in particular revealed ... ... [Read more]

Politics, No.16  Oct. 4, 2013

Thinking About the Abe Cabinet in the Next Three Years

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

The ruling parties in the coalition, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito, comprised the second largest force in the House of Councillors until the Upper House election this summer, in which they won more than half the seats. The parties consequently took a stable majority in both the Upper and Lower Houses, resolving a condition that had been dubbed a “twisted” Diet. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo probably could not have asked for a better election result.... [Read more]

Politics, No.16  Oct. 1, 2013

The Prime Minister’s Challenges During His Three Golden Years

MURATA Koji, International Politics Scholar

As expected, the Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory in the House of Councillors election in July, putting an end to the “twisted Diet.” Since the ruling parties have an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives, unless there is an extraordinary reason, there will be no national elections until the next House of Councillors election, planned to be held in the summer of 2016. So the ruling Liberal Democratic Party can enjoy three golden years. If Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is re-elected in the LDP’s next presidential election in 2015, he will also be able to enjoy three golden years as prime minister.... [Read more]