Abe’s Yasukuni visit: the view from Japan

People walk amongst rows of lit lanterns during the Mitama Matsuri festival at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo on July 13, 2013. Some 30,000 lanterns were illuminated in the precinct in memory of victims of war.  (Photo: AAP)

Author: Toshiya Takahashi, ANU

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Yasukuni Shrine on 26 December 2013 has provoked criticism and denunciation from inside and outside Japan.

Some analysts denounce Abe for his ignorance of the impact of his visit upon China and South Korea and upon security in Northeast Asia. Read more…

Abe not placating the right; he is the right

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe walks after attending the military parade of Japanese Self Defense Forces in Tokyo, Japan, 27 October 2013. The Shinzo Abe government recently established a National Security Council based on the US model. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Richard Katz, TOE

When people ask why Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe decided to worship at Yasukuni Shrine against the advice of most of his advisers, one of the most common answers is that he is placating his right-wing supporters. Abe, say his supporters, ‘is not nationalist; he’s a pragmatist’. But a better view is that Abe is not placating the right; he is the right. Read more…

Don’t write the Democratic Party of Japan off just yet

Banri Kaieda, the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), speaks as the upper house election results are announced at the party campaign headquarters in downtown Tokyo, Japan, 21 July 2013.

Author: Simon Hughes, University of London

Japan’s opposition is in complete disarray. After gaining just 17 seats of the 121 contested in July’s upper house election, a record low for the party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has descended into infighting and could face years in the political wilderness. Read more…

Abe and Japan’s regional diplomacy

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hand with voters during the upper house election campaign in Funabashi, east of Tokyo, Japan, 19 July 2013 (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

As Japan heads to its upper house election on 21 July, a victory for the Shinzō Abe-led Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), reinforcing its December 2012 lower house election win, looks likely.

It is widely feared, particularly in China and South Korea, that such an outcome will give Prime Minister Abe leverage to implement his desired policies.  Read more…

Japan must engage with ASEAN or risk irrelevance

Foreign Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida attends the ASEAN-Japan Foreign Ministers Meeting at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam on 30 June 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Tang Siew Mun, ISIS

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is poised for a comfortable victory in the coming upper house elections. With the latest Kyodo News poll (13 July) putting the cabinet approval rating at 65.3 per cent and the absence of a credible opposition, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and the LDP look set to consolidate their hold on the Diet. Read more…

The Senkaku Islands and Japan–China relations

Uotsuri Island, part of the Japan-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea that are known in China as Diaoyu and in Taiwan as Tiaoyutai. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Hitoshi Tanaka, JCIE

Tension between Japan and China surrounding the Senkaku Islands presents a serious challenge to the stability of East Asia. The situation has become particularly dangerous as both sides are adopting increasingly stubborn postures. Read more…

Noda’s confused nuclear policy

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda inspects the process to test rice for nuclear contamination in the Fukushima prefecture on 7 October 2012. (Photo:AAP)

Author: Richard Katz, The Oriental Economist

When it comes to the Democratic Party of Japan’s nuclear policy, only one explanation makes sense: Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is determined to prove that his party is the bunch of bungling amateurs that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) claims it is.

How else to explain the reversals, and then the reversals of the reversals, of the ‘no nukes’ policy? Read more…

Noda’s unfinished agenda: is Japan TPP participation now more likely?

(From L to R) Former agriculture minister Michihiko Kano, former internal affairs minister Kazuhiro Haraguchi, former agriculture minister Hirotaka Akamatsu, and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ahead of the presidential election of the Democratic Party of Japan on 21 September 2012. Noda easily defeated his three challengers in the election. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

A recent report in the Wall Street Journal by Mitsuru Obe suggests that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will announce a decision to participate in the TPP after a cabinet reshuffle (scheduled for early October).

While a decision to participate in the TPP is highly unlikely, a decision to participate in the TPP talks is certainly possible. Read more…

Ozawa’s departure, the revival of the DPJ and the future of Japan

Ichiro Ozawa speaks to Japanese media on 2 July 2012. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Michael Cucek, Shisaku, Tokyo

This last 2 July, Kenji Yamaoka, the right hand man of Ichiro Ozawa strode into the offices of Azuma Koshiishi, the secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

Tucked underneath Yamaoka’s arm was a large envelope containing letters from himself, Ozawa and an unknown number of other members of the DPJ, requesting leave from the party. The break-up of the DPJ — long prophesied, much discussed and expected to be ugly — had begun. Read more…

Can Ichiro Ozawa repeat history in Japan?

Ichiro Ozawa holds a press conference in Tokyo on 2 July 2012, after tendering a letter of resignation from the ruling party. Ozawa and 49 allies submitted letters of resignation from the DPJ the same day in protest at the government sales tax hike proposal, triggering a party split. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW Canberra

Having failed to block passage of the Noda government consumption tax legislation in the Lower House, Ozawa has now made good on his threat to leave the ruling DPJ.

Ozawa wants to reprise his political triumph of 1993 when he departed from the ruling LDP and founded the Renewal Party with 40 or so loyalists, and then helped to form the Hosokawa coalition government, knocking the LDP from power for the first time in 38 years. Read more…

Japan faces political trench warfare over consumption tax

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda speaks during a press conference at his official residence in Tokyo, 30 March 2012. Earlier in the day his Cabinet approved a bill to double the consumption tax by 2015. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Aurelia George Mulgan, UNSW, Canberra

The political trench warfare in Japan over increasing the consumption tax has taken on the appearance of a ‘final battle’ between Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and party strongman Ichiro Ozawa.

Noda and Ozawa are said to be playing a game of ‘Russian roulette’, but the reality is much more akin to brinksmanship, where only one victor can emerge. Read more…