Nearly one year has passed since the inauguration of the second Shinzo Abe administration.
I feel that everyone must recognize the great things that have been accomplished in domestic affairs and diplomacy, making a complete about-face from the previous Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government. The favorable start of Abenomics was particularly striking. The Abe administration immediately released its “three arrows” – bold monetary policy, flexible fiscal policy, and growth strategies to encourage private investment – after the establishment of the government in order to banish the deflation that has plagued the Japanese economy for many years. In particular, Haruhiko Kuroda was appointed as the governor of the Bank of Japan according to Abe’s will in March; he has set forth a target of 2% inflation and has implemented monetary easing of a different dimension. In addition, stock prices have risen through the implementation of required public investment based on the establishment of a disaster-resilient Japan. The value of the yen has also declined in foreign exchange. The real GDP growth rate was approximately 4% during the first half of this year, the largest of the seven main countries. Abe gave a speech at the New York Stock Exchange in September, when he made a joke about “Buy my Abenomics.” This is proof of the confidence he feels regarding his political measures and accomplishments.
Abe is also proactively carrying out diplomacy. He began by visiting Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia in January. In February he visited the United States, followed by Mongolia in March, Russia and the Middle East in April, and Myanmar in May. He also attended a summit in Northern Ireland in June, and visited four countries in Eastern Europe including Poland. In July he headed to the Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia, in August he went to four countries including Bahrain, and in September he went to the G20 meeting in Russia as well as Canada, the U.S., and Argentina, where he gave a stirring speech at the IOC General Meeting. In this way, he helped make Tokyo’s bid to hold the 2020 Olympic Games a success. In October Abe attended the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders meeting in Bali, as well as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders meeting in Brunei. Moreover, he visited Turkey for the second time when an underground train across the Bosporus, which Japanese corporations helped build, was opened. As a souvenir he received a nuclear power plant order to the tune of two trillion yen. He then returned to Japan before visiting Cambodia and Laos, his 24th and 25th countries, where he concluded aviation agreements.
The goal of these travels was not merely to enhance economic relationships. Strengthening ties with countries near China is a way to form an encircling net around China, which leads to security guarantees in East Asia. After handing over three patrol boats to Indonesia in 2007, during Abe’s visit in July 2013 an agreement was made to provide 10 more patrol boats. Vietnam also has great expectations regarding assistance from Japan for maritime safety, including the provision of patrol boats. As China continues enlarging its maritime interests, it is applying heavy pressure on the Philippines and Vietnam. To oppose this, many countries in Southeast Asia are starting to wish to work in cooperation with Japan as a united front. The first “two-plus-two” talks (meetings between cabinet ministers in charge of foreign affairs and defense) with the U.S. were held in Tokyo, when a pledge was acquired from the U.S. regarding the exercise of Japan’s right to collective defense. Furthermore, the first two-plus-two talks were also held with Russia – a ground-breaking diplomatic moment which paved the way towards the strengthening of relations with Russia and the return of the Northern Territories.
Abe has also achieved great outcomes related to security guarantees. Expert meetings on the establishment of a Japanese National Security Council (NSC) were begun in February. The bill that was determined in June was passed in the House of Representatives in November, and it seems certain that a NSC will be established. The NSC will be the top organization in charge of security guarantees. The standing committee will consist of four ministers: the prime minister, chief cabinet secretary, minister for foreign affairs, and minister of defense. The newly organized National Security Agency will provide advice. In this way, adverse vertical effects between ministries and government offices will be eliminated. For the purpose of national defense, concerted efforts will be made to gather and analyze information, draft strategies, and engage in policymaking.
Together with this bill, the NSC is propped up by the Specific Confidentiality Protection Act. Deliberations began in the National Diet in November. However, the opposition parties and mass media are distorting the intentions of this act to whip up dissent. Another important part of security guarantees is two colloquiums: the Panel Discussion on Reconstructing a Legal Foundation for Security Guarantees and Panel Discussion on Security Guarantees and Defense Capabilities. The former legislates security guarantees, including the exercise of the right to collective defense. The latter is to organize strategies for national security guarantees, including revisions to the Three Principles on Arms Exports. They are gradually working to transform Japan into a country that is capable of protecting itself.
On October 16, the front page of the morning edition of the Sankei Shimbun newspaper ran an article that was a major scoop, entitled “Throwing the sloppiness of the former comfort woman report into sharp relief.” The newspaper obtained the report on the inquiring survey of former comfort women, which served as the basis of the Kono Statement. It divulged the perfunctory nature of the testimony, and the careless nature of the survey itself.
The comfort women issue originally started with the Asahi Shimbun, which spread falsehoods and misinformation by saying that the Women’s Volunteer Corps – a labor service organization – was an organization of enslaved prostitutes. Japan’s history has been scorned to this degree because, directly after the war, the occupying U.S. Armed Forces thoroughly enforced political measures to weaken Japan via its media and education system. It will be necessary to make the media into an honest institution in order to regain pride and confidence in Japan. The new members of the NHK Management Commission – which are appointed with approval from the National Diet – include Katsuhiko Honda, an advisor to Japan Tobacco Inc., Naoki Hyakuta, an author who wrote the book Eien no Zero about the kamikaze pilots, and philosopher Michiko Hasegawa, an emeritus professor of Saitama University. The Management Commission has the right to select the chairman of NHK. In 2009 NHK broadcast a special program entitled Japan Debut, which included a very biased portrayal of Japan’s rule of Taiwan. A lawsuit was even brought with more than 10,000 Japanese and Taiwanese people serving as plaintiffs. Now that NHK’s pro-China stance has gradually become more distinct, it should first appoint a new chairman and then work to perform decent journalism by making proclamations to correct the many mistaken reports it has made in the past. On that point as well, I have great expectations regarding the new Management Commission.
We cannot be optimistic about the future circumstances in the world and the East Asian region that surrounds Japan. In particular, movements in North Korea are a pressing threat to Japan. According to the morning edition of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun on November 9, the National Defense Program Outline – for which the government intends to make a decision by the end of the year – will increase the number of personnel, including the Ground Self-Defense Forces (GSDF). The number of GSDF personnel has decreased from 180,000 in 1976 to 160,000 in 1995, 155,000 in 2004, and 154,000 in 2010. Especial thought will be given to strengthening our defense of islands against China. The organization of the amphibious forces is being considered, based on the presupposition of deploying amphibious vehicles and V-22 Ospreys, as well as increasing the number of personnel from 154,000.
Defense policies of the past have involved only the equipment of defense capabilities. People thought that having offensive abilities would provoke Japan’s neighboring countries, and self-restraint was compelled underneath the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty and the constitution that makes Japan solely dependent on the U.S. if a counterattack is necessary. Despite the concept of “offense is the best defense,” Japan – which has no attack weapons even though it is the number five spender of war expenditures in the world – has been forced to purchase expensive defense weapons from the U.S.
In the missile defense (MD) concept, ballistic missiles are answered with interceptor missiles launched from Aegis ships or surface-to-air Patriot PAC-3 missiles. However, we would not be able to respond if a series of missiles was heading towards Japan at the same time. North Korean missiles are becoming more efficient, and we cannot guard against them with traditional defense. In the future, Japan must consider the choice of attacking the missile bases of other countries with cruise missiles from fighter aircraft or ships. Abe speaks of “assertive pacifism,” which would be precisely demonstrated by the ability to respond, such as by attacking enemy bases. We must have the ability to deter attacks by showing an attitude of being willing to retaliate when attacked; the true meaning of assertive pacifism is not just protecting the country from missiles, but creating circumstances in which no missiles would be launched against us. I definitely hope that the amphibious forces will be enhanced and Japan will gain the ability to attack enemy bases for the sake of its safety.
The Abe administration has learned from its past mistakes – over the past year it has not made straightforward, direct assertions, but is instead engaging in a detour strategy as it steadily implements political measures. My wish is that this government will last as long as possible. At the timing of the House of Councillors election 2.5 years from now it should also hold a House of Representatives election in order to put Diet members who are in favor of constitutional reform in more than two thirds of the seats of both houses. This would open up a path to instantly amending the constitution. If two thirds could not be acquired for some reason, the current Constitution of Japan should be repealed with the approval of more than one half of the members of both houses. Strong spirit of this sort is required, and we must swiftly create a correct constitution. Victory should be achieved in the next double election as well, stock prices should be increased to boost economic strength, and Japan should return to the position of the world’s second-largest economic power by becoming a country focused on science, technology, and tourism. I feel that the best scenario would be for the Abe government to last until the election after that point; Abe’s grand finale should be the opening ceremony to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The late Toru Maeno said, “The enemy of the Japanese people is the Japanese people.” The background behind this contains invisible walls constructed by the U.S. The most effective policies from the U.S. occupation of Japan stem from the concept of “divide and conquer,” a traditional Anglo-Saxon governing policy. Based on the authority of the Emperor of Japan, the U.S. used the bureaucratic organizations and won over the media to implement occupation policies via the Constitution of Japan and U.S.-Japan Security Treaty. Considering the Cold War that grew steadily more intense during the postwar period, the American occupation policies were just a matter of course for the U.S. But if Japan had become an independent country through the conclusion of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, that would have been an ideal opportunity to revise the constitution into an independent one – which was not accomplished. At the end of the Cold War, Japan had become the world’s number two economic power, so it should have revised the constitution at that point. However, this opportunity was also overlooked. The U.S. finally won the Cold War by expending a great deal of blood, sweat, and money, and it thought Japan had stolen away the fruits of these efforts. Consequently, it began engaging in economic warfare with Japan and Germany as hypothetical enemies. Japan was defeated, and has experienced deflation for the past 20 years.
The inauguration of the current Abe government is Japan’s final chance, yet anti-Japanese powers in Japan are hindering this administration’s efforts to become a long-term government, with support from China and South Korea. China and South Korea are the only Asian countries that censure Japan. Moreover, their claims – as demonstrated by the Sankei Shimbun scoop about the comfort women that I mentioned before – have absolutely no basis. South Korean President Park Geun-hye continues criticizing Japan in unrelated countries such as the U.S. and England; the South Korean economy falls into deeper ruin with each criticism, and the administration’s approval rating is steadily declining as well.
Regarding the Nanking Massacre as well, it has become progressively clearer that this “historical fact” was fabricated, and China has lost one of its cards to play. Furthermore, at present the government’s foundation is becoming unstable, such as terrorism that has occurred at Tianamen Square. The great disparity of wealth in China has lead to more than 100,000 incidents of insurrection and demonstrations each year, and China is also facing issues such as Tibet and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In this way, steady steps are being made down the path towards internal division. It seems that the criticisms of Japan by South Korea and China are just the death throes of countries that are about to fall apart.
To ensure that the Abe government lasts for many years, we must continue paying maximum attention to trends in the U.S. Because Abe loudly spoke of breaking free from the postwar regime during his first term as prime minister, the U.S. – which constructed this regime – threw up walls to obstruct him, and he was forced to step down after only one year. It seems that Abe’s detour strategy is currently a success, but he must still be on his guard. The Japan Restoration Party had an approval rating of 14% at the beginning of 2013, but right now it has basically disappeared. The reason is that the U.S. feared that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Japan Restoration Party – forces in favor of constitutional change – would gain two thirds of the seats in the double election, and then make prompt efforts to reform the constitution. Therefore, the U.S. mobilized the mass media across the world (which is ruled by Jewish people and Anglo-Saxons) to criticize Japan Restoration Party Co-representative Toru Hashimoto for his statement on the comfort women issue. In this way, the double election was crushed.
Preparations are being made that are in favor of Japan’s national interests. For example, the U.S. is stepping back from its role as the policeman of the world and is approving Japan’s exercise of the right to collective defense. We must not misread this situation.
Both now and in the past, the main wars in the world have consisted of information strategies and economic warfare. To utilize Japan’s economic power – its main strength – we must urgently construct an organization that is a “Ministry of Information and Publicity.” When baseless accusations against Japan are reported in other countries, this organization would immediately refute them. I am not saying that we should carry out activities to collect information of the sort disclosed by former CIA employee Edward Snowden, but the Ministry of Information and Publicity should have a large role to play. Information gathered through various means should be used in ways that are advantageous to Japan’s industries, and we should conversely strengthen our counterintelligence structure as well. Underneath the Japanese NSC, this organization would probably be positioned as its practical arm.
When reflecting on the year 2013, I am clearly reminded of the greatness of the Abe administration. Further economic development in Japan – as a driving force in the world economy – will contribute to the global economy as well after the bursting of the bubble in China. I intend to provide as much firm support as I can next year so that the Abe administration will become a long-term government.