This Week in Japan is your source for news and information about politics and other happenings in this East Asian island country. This episode covers the Top Five stories of the final week of August 2017.
Host Michael Penn interviews Rob Fahey about the prospects for and the challenges ahead of the Japanese opposition parties, led by the Democratic Party.
Lower House member Takaya Muto tweeted on July 30 that the arguments of students protesting against the security bills “are based on the selfish and extremely egoistic thought of not wanting to go to war.” Since then, his tweet has gone viral in Japan: It was retweeted more than 6500 times and has sparked outrage in the media.
Japan Innovation Party leader Kenji Eda couldn’t have framed the events in starker terms when he discussed the issue of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank at a press conference last Thursday: “It was a victory for Chinese diplomacy and a complete defeat for Japanese diplomacy,” he declared.
For almost a year now after his thumping victory in December 2012 we have found ourselves surprised again and again by Shinzo Abe. We have asserted repeatedly that the Abe that we were witnessing was not the “real” Abe, and that the agenda he was pursuing was based on a tactical calculation about what was necessary to maintain public support, but not a reflection of his basic character.
It is not exactly an unknown technique in politics, but the Abe administration is using it in several high-profile cases, and some people, at least, have noticed. The technique is to establish supposedly “independent” panels or organizations, but appointing people to serve on those panels or in those organizations whose opinions and conclusions are already known in advance.
Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister-cum-Minister of Financial Services Taro Aso, who is a former prime minister, grandson of the legendary Shigeru Yoshida, and related by his sister’s marriage to the imperial family, is increasingly becoming an international laughingstock and a political embarrassment to the Abe administration. After his latest gaffe, there is widespread speculation that Abe will simply dump him from the cabinet in the reshuffle expected next month.