Monday, September 12, 2005

Japan votes for a reformer

I'm not particularly conversant with Japanese politics, but this seems like an important story. Japanese voters answered the call of Prime Minister Koizumi with a strong vote to return him to power on a platform of reforming and streamlining the Japanese government to deal with the next few decades of change there.

By returning Koizumi to power (which looks on the surface like "no change"), the Japanese people are voting for enormous change, at least potentially. Koizumi has plans to scale down government by privatizing the post office and insurance industry, as well as changing the pension system.

Looks like the Japanese are encountering something similar to what Europe is facing as the population ages over the next few decades. Many Europeans seem to be more or less in denial, not wanting to abandon their free lunches, but Japan seems to be trying to tackle the problem head on.

It's also a vote for a Bush supporter in foreign policy:

The win would keep a staunch ally of President Bush in power. Koizumi is expected to stand by his dispatch of troops to support the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq over opposition objections, and he strongly supports the continued presence of 50,000 U.S. military personnel in Japan. Tokyo also is a U.S. negotiating partner in efforts to disarm North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

Koizumi has his work cut out for him, especially in the economic sphere. I wish him the best of luck; he'll need it.


At 12:30 AM, September 14, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

WWII wasn't a total loss. We still got Japan from the bargain, eh?

As someone who watches popular Japanese ANimation, I am pleased to know that the political power circles of Japan EMULATES the popular culture of Japan extremely well. Something that isn't so streamlined in America.

At 12:33 PM, September 16, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

This is pretty funny, the PM is part of the Liberal Democratic Party... and get this, the opposition is called the Democratic Party.

Wow, all politics are local.

At 8:40 AM, September 17, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The changes that the reformer wants to implement essentially drive Japan in a free market (cowboy capatilist?) direction.

The press likes to call this "reform" so as not to indicate to anyone that free market captilism is a good thing.

20 years ago, American journalists were talking about how Japan was going to rule the world, because of their planned economy. Remember James Fallows?

Given Japan's current direction, it may yet rule the world, but it will no longer be something to talk about.

James Becker

At 9:46 AM, September 18, 2005, Blogger Loyal Achates said...

You've got to be kidding me. Koizumi was rteurned to power because the Liberal Democrat party is a cesspool of corruption which maintauins its hold on power by providing pork for big business.

'The post office' is not the system that delivers mail, it's the largest bank in Japan. If you did ny research for your articles you'd know that.

If Japan tries to create a US-style economy, their economy will fall to seocnd-world standards.

At 10:14 AM, September 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

loyal achates,

If you had done your homework you might not have embarrassed yourself in a public forum. It was precisely the members of the "cesspool" which you speak about which Koizumi threw out of the party and sent new candidates to run against. As a person by dint of my little vote who helped return Koizumi to power, and as someone not involved in big business or any cesspool of corruption I'd love to hear how you characterize my vote. As well, the post office is the system that delivers the mail, and is also the largest bank in the world. So I don't quite get your point. Moreover Koizumi's LDP is set to privatize the whole shabang and the opposition parties, in the back pocket of the civil servant unions and for other reasons were against this. The LDP won 296 seats and with Komeito now command more than 2/3 of the lower house. I don't see how our hosts "research" is any worse than yours, and she, unlike you, preceeded her remarks admitting her lack of expertise in this area. Finally, as the second largest economy in the world, that would be a lot of falling, not to mention, for any one but wanker, the similarities between the American and U.S. economies have more in common than not, and if you knew anything about Japan, you would realize replicating the thought and politics of a large continent like Europe and its lazy welfare states like France are really not our cup of tea. In conclusion, seldom have I encountered a more flawed understanding of Japan than in your brief comment. Congratulations.


At 7:44 PM, September 18, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

loyal achates,

Your comment may be right or wrong, but I can't tell, because I can't figure out what you mean. Its my understanding that the Post Office is used as a method to funnel money to politically connected people (both big business and not).

So are you trying to say:

1) The subsidies to big business are what hold the country together, and by eliminating those subsidies the economy will collapse. Selling the Post office will cause this process to occur.
2) Selling the Post Office effectively subsidizes the people who buy it, because they get a big bank to run after they buy it. Thus selling it will not send the country in a US style direction.
3) Koizumi will continue the current subsidies and whatever subsidies are lost due to Post Office privatization will be made up for with new subsidies that haven't been created yet - but are planned. Since the US is heavily subsidized, this will send Japan in the US direction, causing a economic downturn.

Or maybe you mean something I haven't thought of. Really though, I can't tell what you are trying to say.

James Becker

At 12:34 PM, September 19, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

You've got to be kidding me. Koizumi was rteurned to power because the Liberal Democrat party is a cesspool of corruption which maintauins its hold on power by providing pork for big business.

Ya, ya, the Liberal Party in Canada is all corrupt, and the Labour Party in Britain is all corrupt, but what the heck does that have to do with the ruling party in Japan?

At 12:40 PM, September 19, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

I think Ach means just one and only one thing. If Japan follows in America's direction, they are pocked.

If Japan follows in Europe's (his) direction, then why will be selling weapons to the highest bidder... I mean then they will have a good economy.

same difference.

All in all, the basic principle seems to be American (anything) =Evil, inefficient, a disease.

And anything else=Good, Super.

At 1:57 PM, September 20, 2005, Blogger programmer craig said...

"If Japan tries to create a US-style economy, their economy will fall to seocnd-world standards."

Eh.... yes.... obviously.... because Capitalism is bad for the economy.... or something like that....

There's a lot of talking in these comments but it seems like nobody is saying anything interesting :)

At 5:00 PM, September 20, 2005, Blogger yellowpeep said...

Koizumi dismissed 34 member who were corrupted with local municipal government or postal service. So Liberal Democratic Party no longer bears the long- lasted corruption.
What can be praised in his logistics is winning the election and at the same time cut those corrupted members from inside.

May be it's a beggining of a new corruption. But any power can corrupt!

At 10:15 AM, September 24, 2005, Blogger Ymarsakar said...

All politics are local, therefore you really do need the help of someone in Japan to understand what is going on in Japan. Preferably someone with a good head on their shoulders.

That is why I read melannie phillips to learn British politics.

At 5:05 PM, December 31, 2005, Anonymous OHenry said...

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