August 31, 2006


Japan firmly on a conservative path (Hisane Masaki, 9/01/06, Asia Times)

Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, now widely believed to be a shoo-in to succeed Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in September, has made it clear, if ever there was any doubt, that he will pursue an ultra-conservative, nationalistic and pro-US political and foreign-policy agenda.

Abe's policy goals as the new prime minister will include, among other things, giving Japan a greater military role abroad through such means as promulgating a new constitution to replace the post-World War II pacifist constitution, strengthening a security alliance with the United States, and forging a thinly veiled alliance of Asia-Pacific democracies to counter China.

These goals, coupled with Abe's nationalist views on history, hawkish stance on such countries as China and firm support for the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo seen as glorifying Japan's militaristic past, will stoke concerns among Asian neighbors, especially China and South Korea.

New business model is Koizumi's legacy (Suvendrini Kakuchi, 9/01/06, Asia Times)
Under the Koizumi administration, Japan has undergone a dramatic transformation through his policy of promoting fierce restructuring of companies and right-sizing the government.

The bitterly fought postal-reform bill that was passed in the diet (parliament) is a case in point. Koizumi boosted his popularity when he won the elections over the bill, ushering in a long-awaited change to jump-start the economy after the bursting of the bubble economy in the mid-1980s.

Masami Morishima, a businessman in his early 40s who started his own Internet publishing company three years ago, agrees. "Koizumi's reforms have taught ordinary Japanese that we need to be able to develop our own goals rather than depend on our companies to lead us. We must learn to be competitive and be respected for our ability, which is a new concept," he said.

The net result today is an economy that showed a growth of 3.2% in the fiscal year that ended in April, and a stock market that rose 66% in three years.

A report by the Japan Institute for Social and Economic Affairs, a leading think-tank, says the Japanese economy has recovered thanks to reforms in labor, finance, accounting and corporate governance.

The University of California's Steven Vogel writes in the report that the remodeled Japan differs from the earlier version in several ways. For one, Japanese companies are re-evaluating their long-term relationships with banks, workers and other firms. They are also more variable in their practices and more open to having foreign managers and business partners.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 31, 2006 1:05 PM

Is Shinzo Japanese for Honest?

Posted by: jdkelly at August 31, 2006 2:33 PM