5 years ago
The recent Japanese elections have caused Japan to turn a corner, or so the current analysis goes.
Japanese voters swept the opposition to a historic victory in an election on Sunday, ousting the ruling conservative party and handing the untested Democrats the job of breathing life into a struggling economy.
The win by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) ended a half-century of almost unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and breaks a deadlock in parliament, ushering in a government that has promised to focus spending on consumers, cut wasteful budget outlays and reduce the power of bureaucrats …
“This is about the end of the post-war political system in Japan,” said Gerry Curtis, a Japanese expert at Columbia University. “It marks the end of one long era, and the beginning of another one about which there is a lot of uncertainty” …
The Democrats have pledged to refocus spending on households with child allowances and aid for farmers while taking control of policy from bureaucrats, who are often blamed for Japan’s failure to tackle problems such as a creaking pension system.
“The problem is how much the Democrats can truly deliver in the first 100 days. If they can come up with a cabinet line-up swiftly, that will ease market concerns over their ability to govern,” said Koichi Haji, chief economist at the NLI Research Institute in Tokyo.
“Because hopes for change are so big, the disappointment would be huge if the Democrats can’t deliver results.”
The Democrats want to forge a diplomatic stance more independent of the United States, raising concerns about possible friction in the alliance.
“The LDP is probably going to be missed more in Washington than in Japan,” said Michael Auslin at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
Yea, other nations have had that problem of huge disappointment at the broken promises too. It will be interesting to see how long it takes before reality sets in. As for forging a future more independent of the U.S., we should oblige them. Stability in the Pacific rim, particularly for South Korea and Japan, has been assured by the financially convenient arrangement to rely on the umbrella of protection afforded by U.S. military power.
China has been profoundly unwilling to help with the neurotic dictator in North Korea for the same reason that its Navy has been more aggressive in Pacific waters (mostly littoral waters) and cyberwar is being forced on the U.S. by China. There is no proximate threat to its security.
The best way to ensure that North Korea is reined in is to help South Korea to become independent of U.S. help and protection. Once this is effected, the silly “sunshine diplomacy” with the North will be history. Likewise, the easiest way for China to feel the effects of a militaristic neighbor on its coast and forget its preoccupation with the U.S. military is to let Japan become truly independent of U.S. military protection.
The Democrats in Japan probably aren’t thinking about U.S. protection when they say that they want a future more independent of the U.S. But a change to Article 9 the Japanese constitution should occur within short order if it is made clear that their umbrella has evaporated. It is believed that Japan is a de facto nuclear state anyway due to the fact that it could produce nuclear weapons in about a year.
There isn’t any reason that Japan should feel the freedom to forge closer ties with Asia while at the same time it relies on nuclear protection by the U.S. If Japan wants to grow up, we should let her. But growing up comes with new responsibilities – expensive ones. It’s doubtful that the Democrats planned for that.