• Abe will likely need to be more realistic on matters in 2015

    Komeito's Rise Signals a Japanese Political Shift to the Center

    The emphatic victory of Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the December 2014 lower house election masks a quiet power shift toward liberal-centre forces, away from nationalist right-wing forces. What this shift portends is a crucial question for the direction of Abe’s administration.

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  • Japan's energy plan framework changed after the tsunami and earthquake

    Japan's Strategic Energy Plan Challenges

    The Great East Japan Earthquake, the tsunami and the subsequent nuclear power plant accident in Fukushima on 11 March 2011 changed Japan’s energy future drastically. The revised Strategic Energy Plan, which the Japanese Cabinet approved in April 2014, outlines a new conceptual framework for Japan’s energy policy.

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  • Is raising Japan's consumption tax the answer?

    Calls for Abe to Raise Japan's Consumption Tax

    Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the lower house of the Diet on 21 November and called a snap general election on 14 December. At the same time, Abe announced that he would postpone the second hike of the consumption tax rate from 1 October 2015 to 1 April 2017.

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  • Japan has a demographic challenge that could be an opportunity

    Will Japan Seize a Demographic Opportunity?

    Japan is ageing; shrinking population will cause serious problems for the country throughout the 21st century. Although the fertility rate has recovered to 1.39, this is still very low by international standards. Current official projections estimate that Japan’s present population of 120 million will decline to 40 million by 2110. In addition, the proportion of elderly (65 years and older) — now 25 percent of the population — is expected to rise to 40 percent by 2060.

    But Japan’s ageing population is not just a challenge. It is also an opportunity.

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  • Right-leaning revisionists are yet another of Abe's challenges

    Revisionists Threaten to Isolate Japan

    Abe’s persistent stance on the Yasukuni Shrine, the Dokdo/Takeshima territorial dispute and the ‘comfort women’ issue has elicited fierce opposition from the South Korean government. While no rapprochement on any of these conflicts has been achieved, the Japanese government should be aware that its hawkish and revisionist rhetoric is hurting Japan’s reputation and risks driving the country into international isolation.

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  • Japan's snap election is only part of Abe's challenges

    Shinzo Abe's Challenges Go Beyond the Upcoming Election

    When Abe dissolved the lower house on 21 November 2014 and called a snap election for December, top leaders in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito identified keeping 270 seats as the low-water mark, which would represent a loss of 56 seats. Given current economic conditions and the state of public opinion, a unified and confident opposition would probably extract such losses and would challenge the LDP–New Komeito coalition’s majority. But the opposition is still struggling to unify, so Abe and the coalition look reasonably safe.

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  • A little history lesson to explain the economic reality in Japan

    History Helps Explain Japan's Current Woes

    Japan's economy and its lost decades are no more news to us. When Japan was hit by its first real estate collapse, little did it know that its revival would take forever. Many criticized the reforms that were taken and many critics suggested ways to fix the problem of deflation that faced the country. But the 2008 global collapse changed many rules. The US subprime crisis, the Eurozone collapse combined with the much-debated Abenomics gradually dozed off the economy of Japan. Worse, Japan entered its triple-dip recession this year.

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  • Japan's recession could have a long-lasting impact

    Has Japan Entered a Third Lost Decade?

    Japan’s recession is not paving way for sustained growth. It is prolonging new debt and liquidity and thus deteriorating fiscal discipline.

    In the last quarter, Japan’s economy fell into recession. In the West, it was characterized as “unexpected.” 

    The realities are precisely the reverse. With its third ’lost decade,’ Japan has entered an era of massive monetary expansion that it not adequately supported by the fundamentals of its economy. 

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