Month: July 2014

Editorial – Will Japan impose further sanctions against Russia?

Japan will need to decide on further sanctions against Russia in the view of Malaysia Airlines jet being shot down in the Eastern Ukraine by pro-Russian terrorists or maybe even by Russian troops.

Some Russian analysts believe that Japan does not want to impose any sanctions on Russia and that PM Abe wants to keep good relations with Putin in the view of the expected talks over the Northern Territories occupied by Soviet Union and now Russia. Another reason is that PM Abe is supposedly building some sort of security belt around China and the Japan does not want for Russia and China to become close allies. But at the end, say these analysts, if US will force Japan to impose more sanctions on Russia, hinting that Japan will never go against the US.

Do these arguments really have any ground?

It is true that Japan is interested in normal relationship with Russia (as with any neighboring country), but the faint possibility of returning the Northern Territories is not worth letting Putin have its way in the middle of Europe. Yes, Ukraine is very far from Japan and there is little to no interest of Japan and Japanese companies in Ukraine. However, not giving proper response to Putin’s aggression would mean that Japan is giving silent approval to changing the existing international rules by force. And this would give China a go ahead to do the same in the Eastern and South-Eastern Asia.

Then, should Japan really be worried about Russia and China becoming close allies? Not really. After Russia signed the so-called gas deal with China this year Chinese representative openly mentioned that Russia have a vast territories and China has a lot of industrious people, and that is why the two countries should cooperate. This makes China’s agenda very much clear. Putin is not a complete idiot not to understand this, but even if he is, the tycoons around him will explain the problem. Russia far from being interested to be hugged to death by China. It rather tries to scare the West by demonstrating its warm relations with China and pretending it can get by without the European markets. But nobody believes this bluff now. Neither should Japan.

But what is more important, Japan should think about its international responsibility if we want to play a bigger role in Asia and in the world. Sometimes this calls to put national interests behind the international responsibility. This responsibility lies with Japan as well as with the US.

by naokawa


Differences between LDP and Komeito supporters come to the surface

Sankei Shimbun and Fuji News Network conducted and opinion poll. Popularity of PM Shinzo Abe’s administration among Liberal Democratic Party supporters reached 81.3%. On the other hand it was only 52.2% among the supporters of the New Komeito, another party forming the ruling coalition. Similar difference was observed when people were asked about the major policies of the cabinet. Also, popularity of PM Shinzo Abe’s administration among Next Generation Party supporters, the party created by Shintaro Ishihara faction after the Japan Restoration Party was split, reached 66.7%, the closest number to that of LDP supporters.

When asked about changing of interpretation of the Constitution via cabinet’s decision and making the right to execute collective self-defense possible 57.1% of LDP supporters replied that this is important for them, but 31.0% replied that it is not. At the same time half of Komeito supporters replied that the decision was not important for them and only 43.5% acknowledged the importance.

When answering whether the right to execute collective self-defense will serve as a “deterrence”, half of LDP supporters agreed to this, while only 26.1% of Komeito supporters share this opinion. 38.6% of LDP supporters disagreed as well as 65.2% of Komeito supporters.

Speaking about establishment of the laws that would allow deployment of JSDF abroad on as-needed basis, 49.7% of LDP supporters favored the move, while only 32.6% of Komeito supporters shared the same opinion.

Regarding restarting nuclear facilities 57.1% of LDP supporters agree, while 34.7% oppose the idea. Among Komeito supporters 43.5% agree and 50.0% disagree the restarting.

Looking at the Next Generation Party supporters, not only support of the current cabinet is stronger than that of Komeito, but also 53.3% responded that changing of interpretation of the Constitution via cabinet’s decision and making the right to execute collective self-defense possible is important for them. 66.7% believe that it will serve “deterrence”. As for restarting nuclear facilities 46.7% agree and 40.0% oppose the idea.

Natsuo Yamaguchi during his speech in Kumamoto on Jun 21 was asked if it would not be better for Komeito to oppose the approval of the right for collective self-defense to the very end and leave the ruling coalition instead of reaching the common ground with LDP. He replied: “If Komeito was to leave the ruling coalition, administration would become unstable. PM Abe would befriend Ishihara and would probably adopt the security measures that citizens would not expect.”


Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on BS Nittere TV

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga appeared today in Shinso News program on BS Nittere. He talked about the right to exercise collective self-defense and abenomics.

– Many people think the right to exercise collective self-defense was approved too quickly and they are worried about it.
YS: Cabinet decision does not mean that anything is allowed right now. We need to fix the laws that would allow Japan to really execute the right for collective self-defense. It will take time, about a year, and I am sure people will understand.

– Can Japan be drawn into a war as a result? Many people are concerned that lives of JSDF personnel are now at risk and Japan will be fighting wars for other countries.
YS: The very minimal right to execute collective self-defense that was approved by the cabinet mean that it is to be executed only to protect Japanese nationals. Japan as a country has liability to protect its people. In order to achieve this we changed interpretation of the Constitution, but now the corresponding laws need to be created so that it all would really work. There is misunderstanding that the right to execute collective self-defense was all approved by cabinet decision only. It is not true. The laws are still to be discussed and in any case Japan has the right to execute only for protecting its own citizens.

– Will JSDF responsibility area increase as result? Will their lives be endangered?
YS: We need to be prepared for different scenarios. If we have the right to execute collective self-defense it will serve as a preventive measure as well, and lives of JSDF personnel will be saved thanks to this.
The interpretation until now dates back to 42 years ago. But the situation has changed with North Korea possessing powerful weapons, for example. We did not have this situation 42 years ago, now we do. All this time we had the same interpretation of the Constitution that did not reflect the real international situation.

– What people think about the right to execute collective self-defense? The society seems to be divided on this topic.
YS: We should think about people’s’ safety. All countries possess the right for collective self-defense, but in Japan it was forbidden to use it. Now it is allowed to the very minimum extent and just to protect Japanese people. I am sure people will understand this in time.

– Many people say that there was not enough of discussion.
YS: First the cabinet made decision so that we had something to discuss. We showed that the cabinet is united on this. Now we need to amend corresponding laws. It will take about a year to do so. And all the laws will be discussed in parliament of course.

– Many say that the opinion of the opposition parties was ignored
YS: This is not so. Many opposition parties also agreed that the right to execute collective self-defense should be approved – Your Party, Japan Restoration Party, some members from Democratic Party of Japan too.

– But when you talk to people in the street the mood is quite different. It seems there is a discrepancy between public opinion and the opinion of parliament parties.
YS: Cabinet made this decision in order to protect Japanese people. Government has responsibility to do so.

– Should it not be first discussed in parliament?
YS: No. First government has decided on the policy and now we are discussing it.

– Should not PM Abe have explained his motivations better?
YS: It is always difficult when you want to change something or introduce something new. We made decision on the approach and now we have about one year to discuss the corresponding laws.

– About abenomics – has economic situation got better?
YS: GDP has started to grow, so I believe that the situation is changing for the better. Shares price may go up and down, but we are on the right track to make economics better. PM Abe’s administration is only 1.5 years old. The effects of abenomics may not be yet perceived in the regions. It will take time. PM created special commission for regional revival and is a chairman of it. He takes the economic situation and other problems there very seriously. Especially the depopulation problem in the regions.

– How to revive regions?
YS: Tourism, for example. We have relaxed procedures for visa obtaining for several countries. At the same time the regions should also change and take matters in their own hands. If there are employment opportunities, people will stay in regions, doing farming, for example. It will take time though, but after politicians make decision on the policy, it is be easier to go forward.

– It is all long-term, are there any results visible now?
YS: I said already – tourism. Number of tourists increased 1/3 already. Then the individual savings accounts (NISA) – those work very well.

– Can it be said already that the consumption tax will certainly be further raised to 10% as planned?
YS: We need to wait and see what will be of the economic situation. It is not decided at the moment, but we have positive feedback from economy, we will proceed as planned.


US assures that it is capable to recapture the Seknaku Islands

Stars and Stripes online edition reports Lt. Gen. John Wissler, the commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force based in Japan confirming that the US is capable of recapturing Senkaku Islands should China invade it.

Wissler also mentioned that it might not be even needed to actually deploy troops on the islands.

During his meeting with the Chinese defense minister Chang Wanquan on Jul 8 US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel reaffirmed that based on the Japan-US Security Treaty US is fully committed to defend the Senkaku Islands.


The right to exercise collective self-defense is finally approved

Today the government has finally change the interpretation of the Constitution to approve of Japan to exercise the right for collective self-defense. Though some additional ‘wording’ limitations has been made in order to make Komeito, another party in the ruling coalitions to agree to the plan, it is a big step for Japan to take up more responsibility for the peace and stability in the APAC region.

But this is just the first step. The next step must be the establishment of the truly sovereign Constitution created by people of Japan.

by naokawa