Thursday, August 03, 2006

Attention! Japan’s Prime Minister Race Begins

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi completes his term this September. More attention to the second largest economy in the world is necessary.

Mainly, candidates discuss the following issues.

In politics and national security, the rise of revisionism is noticeable. Japanese people are beginning to reconsider postwar pacifism, and some of them even cast doubt on the regime change after World War Ⅱ. Japan faces nasty conflicts with China, South Korea, and North Korea on evaluation of wartime history. As Koizumi is likely to pray at the Yasukuni shrine on the end of World War Ⅱ Memorial Day, these problems will be critical.

In the economy, Koizumi’s neo-liberal policy has brought about the kakusa shakai (growing social and economic gaps), the rich gets richer, and the poor gets poorer. Increasing public deficit has been a long time headache. Like Germany under Bismarck and the Kaiser, Japan had been taking mercantilist until the 1990s.

However, I regret that leading candidates do not talk so much about the US-Japanese alliance, although it is at the turning point of history. It seems to me that Japanese leaders are geographically nearsighted. For Japan, the US-Japanese alliance is much more important than conflicts with China and both Koreas. The alliance is beyond bilateral strategic partnership. It provides Japan with underlying foundation of postwar regime change. Also, it enables Japan to join the club of leading Western democracies, and manage the world with America and Europe. Both aspects are the key to Japan’s position in the world.

I will write some commentaries on the election and prospects of post Koizumi politics. Everyone, keep an eye on Japan this autumn!