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No.17
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]

No.16
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]

No.16
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]

No.15
Politics, KUDO_Yasushi, Nos.13-15  Aug. 29, 2013

(JAPAN POLITICS CHANGED?) Abe Administration: Aiming for a Strong Economic Revival and Realistic Foreign Policy

With an emphasis on measures to spur economic growth, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is pressing forward to put the Japanese economy back on its feet. Amid concerns raised by overseas media and others about the nation’s “tilt to the right,” how does Japan intend to play its role in Asia based on the prime minister’s pet theory of giving priority to the Japan-U.S. relationship? Glen S. Fukushima, who now works as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. after a long and outstanding career in Japan, and Abe’s close aide Yasuhisa Shiozaki, acting chairman of the Liberal Democratic... [Read more]

No.15
Politics, Nos.13-15  Mar. 6, 2013

(JAPAN POLITICS CHANGED?) LDP’s Change to Spur Change of Politics in Japan

EDITOR’S SUMMARY: The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) returned to power after three years and three months in opposition. Through its experience of being in opposition, the party keenly realized the need to become a party for the people and a policy-focused group actively engaged in dialogue with citizens, who embody the sovereignty of the nation. Mr. Shigeru Ishiba, who helped secure the LDP’s return to power as its secretary general, affirms that the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is one that can revive Japan by working out solutions to the country’s long-sidestepped issues, and argues that the changes the party is embracing will initiate true changes in Japanese politics.... [Read more]

No.15
Politics, KUDO_Yasushi, Nos.13-15  Mar. 6, 2013

(JAPAN POLITICS CHANGED?) Abe Administration: Aiming for a Strong Economic Revival and Realistic Foreign Policy

With an emphasis on measures to spur economic growth, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is pressing forward to put the Japanese economy back on its feet. Amid concerns raised by overseas media and others about the nation’s “tilt to the right,” how does Japan intend to play its role in Asia based on the prime minister’s pet theory of giving priority to the Japan-U.S. relationship? Glen S. Fukushima, who now works as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. after a long and outstanding career in Japan, and Abe’s close aide Yasuhisa Shiozaki, acting chairman of the Liberal Democratic... [Read more]

No.15
Politics, Nos.13-15  Mar. 6, 2013

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

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]

No.15
Politics, Nos.13-15  Mar. 6, 2013

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

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]

No.15
Politics, Nos.13-15  Mar. 5, 2013

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

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]

No.15
Politics, Nos.13-15  Mar. 5, 2013

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

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]