The rights of the right as Abe strives for collective self-defence

What role for Japan’s Self-Defense Forces? Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with ground SDF chiefs at the force’s Asaka training ground in Tokyo. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are negotiating with their coalition partner, Komeito, to introduce legislation recognising a limited exercise of collective self-defence. There is rising anxiety about how this endeavour is perceived by Japan’s neighbours and what effect this will have on regional stability, given the Abe cabinet’s right-wing revisionist views of Japan’s history. Read more…

Detecting electoral fraud in Japan

People walk past posters of candidates for the Kawasaki City Assembly in Kawasaki, suburbun Tokyo, on 12 April 2015. The nationwide local elections were partially seen as a referendum on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's efforts to boost the country's economy with upper house elections due next year. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Yusaku Horiuchi, Dartmouth College

It may seem fairly obvious, but only those people who fulfil particular requirements are given voting rights in an election. In Japan, voters must be Japanese citizens aged 20 or over and have a registered address in a municipality within a relevant electoral district for more than three months. Read more…

Japan’s political dynasties fail the porky test

Shinzo Abe is the son of Shintaro Abe, a former leading member of the long-ruling LDP. (Photo: AAP)

Authors: Yasushi Asako, Waseda University; Takeshi Iida, Doshisha University; Tetsuya Matsubayashi, Osaka University; and Michiko Ueda, Syracuse University

Political positions are no longer hereditary in modern democracies, but political dynasties nevertheless exist around the globe and dominate political office in East Asia and Japan in particular. But research shows that dynastic politicians in Japan can be socially inefficient and lead to less optimal and inefficient outcomes for their electorates. Read more…

The Empire Strikes Back: Reforming Japan’s agricultural co-ops and the local elections

A campaign staff puts up posters for candidates in local assembly elections in Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture on 3 April 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW

The nationwide local government elections in April are the ideal opportunity for Japan’s agricultural cooperative organisation (JA) led by the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives (JA-Zenchu) to respond to the Abe administration’s recent reforms of the JA group. Read more…

Gap widens between the LDP and Japan’s liberal Emperor

Emperor Akihito of Japan announces the opening of the ordinary parliament session at the upper house in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, Jan. 18, 2010. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ernils Larsson, Uppsala University

Japan is still torn between those who seek reconciliation with Japan’s neighbours and those who would rather paint a picture of a glorious wartime past. These differences in attitude are never more apparent than between the increasingly nationalistic Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership and the liberal Imperial family.  Read more…

How Abe used the IS hostage crisis to push security reform


Author: Yukiko Miyagi, University of St Andrews

On 21 January 2015, the Japanese government received a threat from the Islamic State (IS) that it would behead two Japanese hostages unless Japan paid a US$200 million ransom. The message from IS pointed to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s announcement that Japan would offer US$200 million in assistance to states countering IS as part of a US$2.5 billion assistance package for Middle Eastern states. Read more…

How to solve Japan’s fiscal sustainability issues

A man looks at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, 27 March 2015. (Photo: AAP).

Authors: Takashi Oshio, Hitotsubashi University, and Kazumasa Oguro, Hosei University

Japan is facing a dual problem of an ageing population and increasing government debt. While pension payouts will balloon out in the next decade, a low tax base means that the government will struggle to finance this. Read more…