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No.10
Politics, No.10  Mar. 30, 2012

KIM JONG-UN REGIME AND DRASTIC GLOBAL CHANGES IN 2012

In describing the Soviet Union when President Mikhail Gorbachev was pursuing perestroika, Margaret Thatcher once said, “Ice becomes in its most dangerous state when melting.” The death of Kim Jong-il somewhat reminded me of Thatcher’s words. The Achilles heel of a totalitarian state is power succession, and North Korea is now entering that most fragile period of dictatorship. What sorts of impacts will Kim Jong-il’s death bring to Japan and the world? There are three points to consider. First, what was left as the legacy of Kim Jong-il’s regime? And what does it mean that his third son and successor,... [Read more]

No.10
Politics, No.10  Mar. 29, 2012

"HASHIMOTO REFORM" HAS A PARTICULAR ABILITY TO SAVE JAPAN

Fierce double election ends – Osaka Restoration Association overwhelms The Osaka “double election” held last November 27 to elect the governor of Osaka Prefecture and the mayor of the City of Osaka was intensely fought. National newspapers and television networks reported constantly on the event and news magazines ran numerous special reports, all focusing their attention on mayoral candidate Hashimoto Toru (former Osaka Prefecture governor). It had been a while since an election for a head of a regional Japanese government had garnered so much national attention,... [Read more]

No.10
Politics, No.10  Mar. 28, 2012

TO OVERCOME REPEATED "NATIONAL CRISES"

As a deputy chief cabinet secretary, I served seven prime ministers from Takeshita Noboru to Murayama Tomiichi. During this period, I worked hard to introduce the consumption tax, was preoccupied with reconstruction from the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and was stuck around the clock in negotiations with the United States, including the Japan-U.S. Structural Impediments Initiative and the Uruguay Round. The Democratic Party of Japan is facing many political challenges, and its ability is being tested. There is a strong debate over whether to raise the consumption tax rate to enable fiscal reconstruction. Reconstruction from the Great East Japan... [Read more]

No.20
Politics, No.10  Mar. 26, 2012

TOKYO: THE 3/11 GENERATION

Let me first admit that as the author of this article I will not be impartial, because I love and have known Japan for almost fifty years. I owe this passion to moviemaker Kurosawa Akira. I had the honor to meet him, long after Rashomon, his masterpiece, allowed me to discover the essence of cinema. Rashomon had encouraged me, as a young Parisian student, to learn Japanese – albeit not proficiently – but also to venture, with somewhat more success, into the study of Japanese civilization. My passion was later legitimated by my maître à penser (intellectual model), the great French anthropologist Claude... [Read more]

No.9
Politics, No.9  Jan. 28, 2012

JAPAN NEW PARTY MARKED THE TURNING POINT

Otto von Bismarck, the first Chancellor of the German Empire, famously said, “Fools say they learn from experience; I prefer to learn from the experience of others.” What has led to the current confusion in Japanese politics? Two guest commentators from Asahi Journal known for their discussions in Kokkai tsushinbo [National Diet report card] reflect on Japanese political parties over the 20 years since 1992 to look for the roots of this disarray. MIKURIYA Takashi: Today we would like to reflect on political parties in the past 20 years, including those that are now defunct, and their relation to politics. My hope is that by looking at what each party did and the policies they achieved, and evaluating them and gauging their historical significance, we can identify the structural problems in today’s government.... [Read more]

No.9
Politics, No.9  Jan. 26, 2012

HOW WE CAN SHARE HOPE WITH AFRICANS

Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko made his diplomatic debut at the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York. In his address at the General Debate (September 23, 2011), Noda referred first and foremost to the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck the country just over six months prior, and on behalf of the Japanese people expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the friendship, solidarity and helping hands extended from around the world. He noted that university students gathered in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi in memory of Japanese victims of the earthquake and together sang the popular Japanese song known outside Japan as “Sukiyaki” (titled “Ue wo muite arukou [Look up when we walk]” in Japanese) saying they wished to deliver the... [Read more]

No.8
Politics, No.8  Nov. 29, 2011

BEHIND THE SCENES OF OPERATION TOMODACHI

U.S. forces took quick action for relief immediately after the quake Katsumata: Following the unprecedented disaster on March 11, U.S. forces promptly announced their full support and collaborated with the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF). To enable smooth action, BCAT was for the first time ever set up within the Ministry of Defense as well as in disaster-hit Sendai. This organization is essentially BCAT that would be set up in times of an armed attack against Japan or in emergency situations in neighboring regions in order to allow the fluid communication between the militaries of the two countries. It is defined in the Guidelines on U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation drafted in 1997, but had never before been set up. Based on these guidelines, BCAT was established in response to the disaster. BCAT took a central role in running Operation Tomodachi, which people... [Read more]

No.8
Politics, No.8  Nov. 27, 2011

POLITICIANS, WOULD YOU PLEASE STOP BETRAYING OUR NATIONAL INTERESTS?

The “Quintuple Distress” and its impact on the industrial circle ITOH Motoshige: Since the Great East Japan Earthquake, we have often felt that the government’s actions are slow when it comes to the recovery of the damaged areas and the policy issues that Japan needs to face, and we almost question if they are actually betraying national interests by being too caught up in their own political matters. What are your impressions on the current state of Japanese politics? HASEGAWA Yasuchika: Exactly like you say. As the loss of ruling party control in both houses is almost a given, unless they resolve the problem of the ruling party not even being able to pass a bill on its own, the earthquake recovery and every other policy issue will grind to a halt. Another unfortunate thing that we see happening is that members of the ... ... [Read more]

No.8
Politics, No.8  Nov. 26, 2011

THE NATURE OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF JAPAN AND THE FUTURE OF JAPANESE POLITICS

Introduction The media is unsparing in its view of government by the Democratic Party of Japan. The trials and errors and straying course of day-to-day administration, in particular, seem to rub reporters the wrong way, and as a result, the following is the picture painted two years after the party took power. Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio destroyed himself by repeating inconsistent statements as demonstrated by the Futenma issue. His replacement, Kan Naoto, started out by abruptly announcing a tax-and-spend policy before suffering a major defeat in the Upper House elections, and after the earthquake disaster, he made a display of abandoning nuclear power... [Read more]

No.8
Politics, No.8  Oct. 5, 2011

U.S.-JAPAN RELATIONS IN CONTEMPORARY WORLD HISTORY

Much is being made of the fact that this year, 2011, is the sixtieth anniversary of the San Francisco peace conference that ended the state of war between Japan and the United States and at the same time established the basic framework for a security alliance between the two nations. We could also note that this year marks the seventieth anniversary of Pearl Harbor and the eightieth anniversary of the Japanese invasion of Manchuria that ultimately led to the U.S.-Japan war. It is also fifty years since 1961 when President John F. Kennedy and Prime Minister Ikeda Hayato declared a “new era” in the two countries’ relationship, and forty years since the “Nixon shocks” of 1971 that seemed to shake the foundation of... [Read more]