You can’t teach an old Shogun new tricks. But in the case of Japan, you can sure keep try doing the same failed things over and over again, expecting a different outcome.
We been discussing Japan a great deal here in the Truth Emporium lately. That’s because Japan is a great case study in how a nation-state should NOT be conducting itself. From population implosion, to failed Keynesian economics, to a warhawk prime minister, and to a debt to GDP ratio that is pushing 250%, Japan is doing just about everything wrong these days.
Things are so rotten in Japan, that despite billions of dollars in Keynesian surplus being pumped into the economy to prop it up, the country still entered a recession again this year. In the fact, according to this article from Bloomberg, the recession appears to be much worse than originally believed, despite the fact Japan’s economy was just soaked in a sea of red ink Keynesian funny money. Things were so bad, that when news of the recession became official, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for general elections.
In most normal countries, when the economy tanks, there is a change in political leadership. Or there is a revolution. Not so in Tokyo.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his party actually won a landslide victory in recent elections. His party picked up 6 seats, in fact, to further it’s grip on power. If that’s not an endorsement of Keynesian/Neo-Con/Abenomics, then I don’t know what is. You can read more on the landslide victory for Abe here.
You can’t teach an old Shogun new tricks.
A Shogun was a hereditary military governor in Japan during medieval times. Today the head of the Japanese government is called “prime minister”, the usage of the term “shogun” has continued somewhat. A retired prime minister who still wields considerable power and influence behind the scenes is called a yami shogun, or “shadow shogun.” The title of shogun in Japan meant a military leader equivalent to general, and at various times in the first millennium shoguns held temporary power, but it became a symbol of military control over the country. (Source)
Thusly, given their long history of militarism, it should then come as no real shocker to us that one of the primary goals for Prime Minister’s Abe’s new term in office is to revise Japan’s constitution and actively protest what it calls “wrongful accusations” about the country’s wartime past. You can read more here in this article from the Daily Mail:
The constitution was drafted by American forces that occupied Japan after its defeat in World War II, and has been interpreted to allow a military only for defensive purposes. What constitutes defensive purposes has been expanded over the years, most recently in July by a Cabinet reinterpretation of the constitution that allows the military to defend an ally, such as the U.S., in limited conditions under a concept known as “collective self-defense.”
While some Japanese are drawn to Abe’s attempts to project a stronger Japan to counter China’s rise, many embrace the constitution’s anti-war stance and are wary of any attempts to change that. Any nationalist-leaning initiatives would raise tensions with China and further sour ties with South Korea.
A more immediate issue will be Abe’s position on World War II history, whether he will return to a shrine that honors convicted Japanese war criminals among the war dead, and what statement he will make on the 70th anniversary of the end of that war next August.
His visit to Yasukuni shrine a year ago, on the first anniversary of taking office, angered China and South Korea, and the U.S. took the somewhat unusual step of expressing official disappointment.
Statements by Abe and by conservatives he has appointed to the board of Japan’s national broadcaster have raised doubts about his commitment to an official apology Japan made on the 50th anniversary of the war’s end, and to a 1993 apology to Korean and other women who worked in military-run brothels during the war, many against their will.
James Schoff, a Japan expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, worries that a huge victory for Abe’s party could embolden him to pursue his nationalist goals, rather than focus on bolstering the economy and U.S.-Japan security ties.
In this Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 file photo, Japanese men clad in outdated military costume march in to pay respects to the country’s war dead at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo as Japan marks the 69th anniversary of its surrender in World War II. A projected landslide victory for Japan¿s ruling party in national elections Sunday, Dec. 14 could give Prime Minister Shinzo Abe political breathing space to push forward with his long-held nationalist agenda. An immediate issue will be Abe¿s position on World War II history, whether he will return to the shrine that honors convicted Japanese war criminals among the war dead, and what statement he will make on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II next August. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
This is all some pretty deviant malarkey from Japan, a nation we refer to as an “ally” for some reason. Japan trying to gloss over it’s flagrant World War II atrocities is only about two rungs lower on the absurdity ladder as Holocaust denial.
We have a large trading deficit with Japan too.
The U.S. goods trade deficit with Japan was $73.4 billion in 2013, a 4.0% decrease ($3.0 billion) over 2012. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Japan accounted for 10.7% of the overall U.S. goods trade deficit in 2013. The United States has a services trade surplus of an estimated $19.6 billion with Japan in 2012 (latest data available), up 0.3% from 2011.
Given Japan’s high tariffs on many imports, even those from their American “allies,” it is no surprise that the United States suffers from a high trade deficit with Tokyo. The tariffs have caused high level diplomatic tension. For policy wonking, you can even check out Japan’s tariff schedule. It’s very high.