Stopping deflation has been the most important macroeconomic policy target for Japan for more than 15 years. Japan’s nominal GDP was its highest level of 523 trillion yen in 1997 and had been declining to 472 trillion yen in 2011, one year before Abenomics, macroeconomic policies under Abe cabinet, was launched. The Japanese economy was stuck in a deflationary cycle for many years. Very aggressive monetary policy under Abenomics was effective to change the deflationary trend.
The ongoing standoff over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands is key for global peace and prosperity. In September 2012, in reaction to the Japanese government’s hastened acquisition of three Senkaku islets from a Japanese private citizen, China started to send its forces in the waters surrounding the small archipelago administered by Japan.
Abstract Numerous bilateral initiatives, in various cultural, political and economic fields, were organized to celebrate the 150° anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Italy and Japan. Among them, Keio University of Tokyo, jointly with Bocconi University and the Embassy of Italy in Tokyo, gathered a conference on “The economics of Italy and Japan: Historical Development and Future Policies for Stability and Growth” (Tokyo, 23 May, 2016).
In May 2014 Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to launch the Cabinet Bureau of Personnel Affairs, a new bureau, run by Katsunobu Kato, Abe’s closest aid. This maneuver is no doubt aimed at tightening control of bureaucrats, that have been indulging overwhelming power for ages. This shows clearly the importance of bureaucracy in political life of Japan.
Forget the political parties that are contesting Japan’s parliamentary election this weekend. The real choice for Japanese voters as they cast ballots is between cynicism and indifference. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has called a snap election less than halfway through the parliament’s term – but not because his parliamentary majority is at risk and voters need to give him and his party a new mandate. Just the opposite: Abe has called an election to exploit a disorganized opposition and protect his own back. This is breath-taking opportunism.
Economic good sense and reforms as opposed to ill-fated nationalism and historical revision. In a nutshell, this is what Japan’s current and most probably also future government should be able to provide the Japanese electorate with after Japan’s Lower House elections on December 14.
Abenomics is at a crisis point. The economy slipped back into recession in Q3, prompting a delay to the second planned consumption tax hike and a snap election. The Bank of Japan meanwhile has also reacted to weak growth by expanding its monetary easing programme. The latter decision may avoid a return to deflation but unless the ‘third arrow’ of Abenomics – structural reform – is activated, Japan’s relative economic decline is set to continue.
Two Asian leaders who planned to meet at the APEC meeting in Beijing actually did just that: on November 10 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for a short but nonetheless symbolically very important encounter. During their reportedly not exactly ‘warm-hearted’ encounter, Abe and Xi reportedly agreed to make efforts to work on maritime crisis management in order to prevent further Japanese-Chinese maritime clashes in disputed territorial waters in the East China Sea.
While the US is seeking a way of rebalancing China in East Asia its approach left space for interpretation. The strategy of positioning itself in Asia on basis of concrete security issues and alliances while keeping its involvement open is seemingly only one aspect of the new game. Today a more or less refined toolbox of ‘strategic persuasion’ was designed in order to deal with an increasingly influential and powerful China. Instead of engaging in a non-desirable and costly direct military opposition to China, the US tries to pull all the strings in order influence its behavior towards moderation particularly in East Asia. In so doing, Washington is encountering an expectation-perception gap. So far the strategy has not necessarily proven successful. In Beijing, strategic maneuvers were often not fully understood and responses did not turn out not as initially desired. The US’ pivot to Asia has aroused a primordial fear in modern China: containment by outside powers. With a return to more traditional language of balancing, in China the situation was better understood. Yet, the implication remains the same. China has in reaction adopted a more assertive stance in military affairs while gradually trying to limit political damage in the ASEAN framework.
Since the partition of the Korean peninsula, the crises between Seoul and Pyongyang have ranked high in the US political agenda. Nonetheless, the profile that the Obama administration has chosen to keep is relatively low. This choice has triggered criticisms, however the posture has brought its own benefits. Moreover, in a difficult economic situation, and in the face of increasing pressures for the curtailing of government expenditure, the ‘low profile’ approach meets the demands of a Congress whose support the White House increasingly needs. The main uncertainty is in the attitude of the PRC. However Beijing, more than any other nation, has a keen interest in keeping East Asia stable. This does not mean that China will become a sort of ‘US cop’ in East Asia. However, some forms of localized cooperation can be envisaged; a cooperation that could strengthen, as China will progress in occupying the international position that its leadership believes the country deserves.