Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pulled it off, again. After 2014, Shinzo Abe’s Liberal-Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) has won yet another snap election and unless he will be challenged internally in the months ahead, Abe will govern in Japan until 2021. Voters have voted for stability over change in Sunday’s Lower House elections and have seemingly chosen to forgive the old and new Prime Minister’s his alleged cronyism and near-obsession to revise the country’s war-renouncing constitution. Mr.
Japan under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe does not have what a country geographically so close to and easily within range of North Korean short and medium-range missiles should have: a plan, let alone a North Korea strategy, that goes beyond announcing that Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear tests are an “unacceptable provocation”.
On March 6, Pyongyang fired four missiles into the Sea of Japan and three of them landed in Japan’s ‘exclusive economic zone’ in Japanese territorial waters. The missiles travelled roughly 1.000 kilometres and landed as close as 300 kilometres from Japan’s northwest coast. For now, business as usual – at least more or less – for Japan’s defence planners and defence hawks. In 2016 alone North Korea conducted 20 missile and 2 nuclear tests and Tokyo has been within range of Pyongyang’s short and medium-range missiles for years.
In recent years, regional integration and cooperation in Asia have gained new momentum, driven by regional organizations (ASEAN) and by the creation of mega Free Trade Areas. All this in the context of a rising India in the international trade and China’s ascent as a global leader with its own regional agenda. While the EU is going through a severe identity crisis, Asia’s new outburst of regionalism attracts much attention. Can the EU and ASEAN projects be compared? Which lessons can be learnt from the EU integration? What is the impact of Asia’s new regionalism for Japan?
Two years have passed since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won Japan’s last general elections with a landslide. Abe, so it seems, is firmly in the saddle to lead the world’s third biggest economy. To be sure, the years ahead will be testing Abe’s leadership skills. He will be confronted with an increasingly assertive China challenging Asia’s maritime territorial boundaries in the East and South China Seas and with a new U.S. President, who on the campaign trail announced to want (much) more from Japan in terms of burden–sharing for Asian security.
The EU and Japan have big plans to intensify and institutionalize cooperation in international politics and security. A bilateral agreement, through which such increased and institutionalized cooperation is envisioned to take place is the EU-Japan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). The SPA will cover cooperation in regional and global politics and security and is envisioned to give the e.g. current EU-Japan ad-hoc on the ground non-military security cooperation an institutional framework.
Anyone who says that they know what Donald Trump will do as president is lying. Trump himself does not know what his policies or responses to particular situations will be – which is not surprising for someone who has no background on most issues a president confronts, no record of government service, no appetite for preparation, a preference for going with his gut, and the apparent absence of an ideological or moral compass.
When Japan experienced a historic power transition in August 2009, as the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party was removed from power by voters for the first time in the LDP’s fifty four years of history, and replaced by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), many observers hailed the arrival of serious inter-party competition and even a two-party political system. Nonetheless, the DPJ was itself then voted out of power in December 2012 in a crushing defeat almost as big as the LDP’s 2009 defeat.
On 5 December 2016, Shizo Abe became the fourth longest serving prime minister in the postwar Japan after Eisaku Sato, Shigeru Yoshida, and Junichiro Koizumi. Before Abe became prime minister for the second time in December 2012, six prime ministers stayed in power only around one year respectively. Abe won two lower house elections and two upper house elections since December 2012 until July 2016. This is an unprecedented record.
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.