Date: August 24, 2017
Time: 12-1.45pm (hard stop)
Place: The Andaz Hotel Toranomon Hills
Cost: 7,000 Yen (please pay in cash)
Japanese politics is not often a topic of global interest, especially when Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and Marine LePen divert so much attention.
However, the likelihood that PM Abe could be thrown out of office is worth investigating, and for that reason we have invited a leading political commentator to discuss the “fall of Abe”.
Michael Penn the founder and President of Shingetsu News is that rare creature, a committed and independent expert (precisely the type of speaker the DN strives to attract). Fluent in Japanese, an experienced Japan watcher and author of the book “Japan and the War on Terror” he has made a name for himself through his industry and insight. His revenue comes from his journalistic efforts, which he sells on a subscription basis.
Michael will first discuss the nature of these “scandals” and what it says about Japan’s politics. Abe helped out his friends in a way which in the UK, for example, would hardly cause comment. But the LDP, a collection of factions, is full of politicians who want their own turn in power.
Are these scandals just an alliance between a moralizing media and ambitious political players? Or did Abe really go too far?
Michael will also address the legacy of Japan’s most powerful prime minister in decades. Some will hope that his desirable if inconclusive efforts to rev up Japan’s economy will be continued by his successor. However, if the next leader returns to form, he will lack Abe’s authority and focus. Abenomics could drift from being “inconclusive” to something far worse.
Imagine a resurgent Bank of Japan and Ministry of Finance again pushing for “good deflation” and “virtuous” cost savings and budget balancing.
GDP growth would drop from already infinitesimal levels. The effect on the stock market, the most obvious “win” from Abenomics, would be lamentable, as would the surge in the debt to GDP ratio.
Another Abe legacy would be Japan’s foreign policy. Relying on the US, which faces none of the dangers of retaliation which Japan does from the DPRK for example, is dangerous. Abe’s efforts to give Japan’s foreign policy sharper legislative “teeth” make sense – in a way. But his refusal to accept Japan’s responsibility for its role in WW2 has encouraged a tradition of inadequate self-analysis. In turn, government complacency has weakened faith in the government’s ability to prevent the buck-passing and moral weakness of the 1930s. In any case, Abe’s vision for Japan is regressive, given the demographic and economic changes the country is experiencing.
Come to this event to understand where Japan stands as the LDP prepares to ditch its most successful leader since PM Koizumi.