Abe takes his electoral ‘chance’

A man walks past posters of Japanese prime minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader Shinzo Abe displayed at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo on 4 December 2014. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, East Asia Forum

As the official election campaign rolled out last week, the media are still trying to get a handle on what the upcoming Japanese election is all about. This is ‘the election Japan didn’t need to have’ or the election ‘that’s not about anything in particular’, except securing Prime Minister Abe’s and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) survival in the longer term. Read more…

Snap election belies Japan’s weak politics

Japan's Prime Minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader Shinzo Abe greets supporters after his election campaign speech for the 14 December lower house election. Abe's ruling party is on course for a landslide win in the upcoming general election, opinion polls showed. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

The incumbent Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) seems to be cruising towards a victory in the snap election to be held on 14 December. But beware of interpreting this as a ringing endorsement of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Instead, the likely result shows just how weak Japanese politics has become. Read more…

Liberal Japan needs to drown out revisionist voices

Japanese lawmakers visit the Yasukuni Shrine to pay respect to the war dead on the day of the 69th anniversary of the end of the World War II, in Tokyo , Friday, 15 August 2014. (Photo: AAP)

Author: Benedikt Buechel, Seoul National University

Since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s return to power in December 2012, Japan’s diplomatic relations with South Korea have continuously worsened. Abe’s persistent stance on the Yasukuni Shrine, the Dokdo/Takeshima territorial dispute and the ‘comfort women’ issue has elicited fierce opposition from the South Korean government. While no rapprochement on any of these conflicts has been achieved, the Japanese government should be aware that its hawkish and revisionist rhetoric is hurting Japan’s reputation and risks driving the country into international isolation. Read more…

Reconciling Japan’s security policy with Northeast Asian stability

Nationalist protesters with Japanese flags and Japan's naval ensign march through a Tokyo street to denounce privileges for Koreans residents in Japan as riot police line up along the street. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Ben Ascione, ANU

On 1 July 2014, the Abe government made a cabinet decision to reinterpret the Article 9 peace clause of Japan’s constitution to recognise the exercise of collective self-defence under limited circumstances. While the scope of the proposed changes are an evolution rather than a revolution in Japanese security policy, especially due to the tough negotiations with Abe’s coalition partner New Komeito, furore and misconception have surrounded the move. Read more…

Shinzo Abe’s Australia visit and stability in Asia 

Australian Defence Minister David Johnston and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop meet Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo on 11 June 2014. Abe will soon embark on an historic visit to Australia. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Peter Drysdale, Editor, East Asia Forum

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will address both houses of the Australian parliament tomorrow in an historic visit, the first bilateral visit in 12 years by a Japanese leader. This is an occasion that will provide an excruciating test not only of the measure of Abe but also of measured-ness in Japanese and Australian thinking about their joint and collective responsibilities towards stability in the Asian region.

Read more…

Can Japan exercise collective self-defence effectively?

Members of airborne troops participate in the annual military parade of the Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF) at the Asaka training ground in Tokyo, Japan on 27 October 2013. (Photo: AAP).

Author: Narushige Michishita, GRIPS

On 15 May, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s hand-picked Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security submitted its final report. The report recommended that Japan play a more active international security role by exercising the right of collective self-defence as well as participating in collective security activities authorised by the UN. Read more…

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…