The Shinzo Abe administration, which was founded in December 2012, has decided that economic stimulation is its most important political policy, and has set forth emergency economic measures. The essentials of these measures are the “Three Arrows”: daring monetary policies, agile fiscal policies, and growth strategies to inspire private investment. The aim of these is to rid Japan of the high-valued yen and deflation. They include introducing cost-of-living targets to the Bank of Japan, requests for assertive monetary easing, and more. It is expected that the GDP will be boosted by 2% through these economic measures to the scale of 20 trillion yen.
Personally, I can understand political measures that prioritize the economy until the House of Councillors election. However, in that case I think they should bring larger, more easy-to-understand targets to the fore in order to inspire citizens.
The government should emulate the plan to double earnings that was set forth by the Hayato Ikeda administration in 1960 – it should put a strategy to double the area of residences into operation. Through inducement related to taxes and the relaxation of regulations, it should set forth a strategy to double the area of newly built residences within the next 10 years. Then, it should work to achieve this target.
Why should the area of living spaces be doubled? This would be a way to revive the extended family system. After World War II, the family succession system was abolished by the United States. This caused the rapid collapse of the extended family system and led to the creation of nuclear families. Furthermore, in recent years there are progressively “individual families” that are caused by job transfers away from one’s family, as well as education that is focused on test results. For example, a father will leave the six-person family home of his parents to rent a home and have a family in Tokyo. He may be transferred to Sendai, and his two children may live separately in Kyoto and Sapporo due to their schooling. In that case, the burden on their livelihood is significant, even with a great deal of income. Therefore, they cannot live in an affluent way.
If people lived in large families or three or four generations, wisdom could be passed down from parent to child, and then to grandchild. Children could be raised to be strong, there would be fewer people who withdrew from society, and mutual aid would be possible. If people took care of each other in this way, the expenses allocated for senior citizens’ homes and nursing care would decrease. There would also be no need to leave small children at day care facilities. Because expenses would decrease, people could use their income to live affluent lives.
However, under the Japanese tax system, tax reductions do not apply to large-scale houses. For example, if a house has floor space greater than 240 square meters, the measures to reduce the real estate acquisition tax cease to apply. For the real estate tax as well, taxes go up swiftly as the areas of land plots and buildings grow. The policy has become one in which each family has their own house; Japan’s political policies on housing in the postwar period have created many small houses in this way.
But what are the results of this? If a person who lives alone becomes sick suddenly, the chance that they will die because help doesn’t come in time is great. There are no statistics for this, but there are likely almost 100,000 people who solitary deaths, all by themselves, each year. Nearly 30,000 people commit suicide each year as well. If we used tax incentives to attract unique universities and industries to rural areas, we could revive the extended family system. This would help people such as this, and would also halt the depopulation stemming from an aging population and decreasing birthrate. The construction of large-scale homes for three or four generations to live together could be promoted if we reduced the real estate tax and acquisition tax to half or one third of their current level. This would help affect economic turnaround.
A policy that would have immediate effectiveness as a measure to stimulate the economy is the further relaxation of the floor space ratio for buildings in urban areas. We should also create an underground beltway that cuts across Tokyo – which could be accomplished for around one trillion yen, even for 200 kilometers, because expenses for land acquisition are not required – in the deep underground beneath central Tokyo. The Yamanote Line should also be made into a subway.
These things would improve distribution speed and reduce associated costs, and likely have large, positive impacts on economic activities. The history of capitalist economies is one of inflation; even during times of deflation, if you look at the whole inflation always takes place over the long term. The capital for these projects should be raised through construction bonds with a redemption period of 100 years, and an inheritance tax value of one half if the bond is possessed for five years or longer. Ultra-long-term bonds of this type are possible now, exactly because of the current area of deflation and ultra-low interest. These construction bonds, with interest rates close to zero, could extend for the period of 100 years. The repayment could come from subterranean road tolls and subway fees. We should start work on these public-works projects with the scheme of handing over management rights for the facilities created in this way to civilians, and then recovering a portion of the initial investments.
Deflation has continued for the past 20 years in the Japanese economy. During that time, Japan’s real GDP has remained mostly unchanged, despite the fact that the world’s real GDP has nearly tripled and China’s has increased by 10 times. As a result, we have been overtaken by China, and have fallen from the position of the world’s second-largest economy to its third largest. Corporations, including those from Japan, have advanced into China. Using new facilities, they have produced products with cheap labor costs and then sold them throughout the world in massive quantities. In this way, China’s economy has grown. Conversely, Japan has lost its competitive power as it uses high-wage, domestic manpower and deteriorated machinery and facilities.
To that end, we should invite the introduction of new facilities by significantly shortening the depreciation period. We should also encourage corporate investments in the future by approving batch amortization during the first year for research and development costs, as well as related facilities. The national government should also invest more of its budget in research institutions such as universities. Many of Japan’s excellent technicians are flowing outward into China and Korea because of factors such as compulsory retirement, and most Japanese manufacturers – centered on consumer electronics – are experiencing a crisis.
Yet Shinya Yamanaka of Kyoto University was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine last year, bringing Japan’s total number of Nobel laureates in the natural sciences to 15 people. This is the six-largest number in the world. In contrast, neither China nor Korea has won a Nobel Prize in the natural sciences – Japan’s strength in fundamental research and development is the greatest in Asia. We should make use of this ability to develop new industries and share them with the world.
In addition to economic issues, Japan is also confronted with territorial issues. The U.S. formulated all of these issues in order to prevent Japan from forming close relationships with its surrounding countries. In the past, the various solutions raised during negotiations between Japan and Russia on the issue of the Northern Territories were all crushed. The reason for this as well was the existence of the U.S. Muneo Suzuki and Masaru Sato were involved in these negotiations and are well versed in the circumstances in Russia. The reason criminal cases were brought against them was because they went against the desires of the U.S. The same thing was behind the fact that the administration of Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who worked to resolve the problem based on a close relationship with President Vladimir Putin, lasted for only one year.
Regarding the issue of Takeshima as well, when Korean President Syngman Rhee decided on the “Syngman Rhee Line,” all President Harry Truman would have had to do would be to say, “No.” He didn’t do so because the U.S. was attempting to prevent the Empire of Japan from being revived for all eternity. According to the traditional Caucasian colonial policy of “divide and conquer,” the U.S. wanted to leave Japan and Korea in a state of opposition.
The Senkaku Islands were returned to Japan by the U.S. as a part of Okinawa. Historically, they have never been part of China’s territory. In 1969 a survey conducted by a United Nations agency revealed the existence of offshore oil fields. China began asserting its territorial rights during the following year for this reason.
At that time, China did not have economic power or the technical power required for excavating these offshore oil fields. It decided on a policy of shelving this issue and postponing its conclusion. Afterwards, the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone was enacted in 1992. This law clearly specified that the Senkaku Islands are China’s territory – a one-sided way of discarding the policy of shelving the issue before Japan did so. Despite this, last year China intentionally revolted against the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government’s nationalization of the Senkaku Islands. China continually invades our territorial waters with patrol boats and other ships. Moreover, it is even violating our airspace, which it has never done before.
Regarding China’s unbending attitude, even in Japan there are people and political parties who say, “Japan is wrong because it discarded the ‘shelving’ policy before China did by nationalizing the islands.” Some also claim that a case should be brought to the International Court of Justice, even though Japan has effective control over the islands. These claims are truly ridiculous and a perfect illustration of the phrase, “The enemy of the Japanese people is the Japanese people.”
If things continue in this way, China will continually invade our territorial waters, and Japan will have no choice but to insist on its effective control. Japan should sell the Maritime Self Defense Forces’ Self-Defense Fleet to the Japan Coast Guard in order to prepare for this situation. The number of scrambles to confront Chinese planes trespassing into our air defense identification zone has also increased. The Abe administration is placing priority on the economy, but it must not invite China’s effective control of the Senkaku Islands by falling behind schedule in the realms of diplomacy and security guarantees. If we don’t display a resolute stance at this time, China’s demands will rapidly increase to encompass Tsushima and Okinawa.
Over the New Year holidays, I began reading a book called Why did the U.S. Start a War With Japan? I was unable to stop, and ended up reading it all at once.
The argument of this book is exactly the same as my own. The first section of the book is written by diplomatic commentator Hideaki Kase about the truth of the war between Japan and the U.S., which the U.S coerced Japan into. The second section is by Henry Scott Stokes and discusses the path from the invasion by Matthew C. Perry to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Firstly, this book highly evaluates Japan’s meritorious deeds. The Greater East Asian War was begun when Japan was drawn into the war according to a scheme by Franklin D. Roosevelt. The background to this included racial discrimination based on Christianity. Japan fought in order to liberate Asia. After the war the Asian countries became independent; this wave even reached the African countries, and colonialism met its demise. This created the current society of racial equality.
In the first section, the book says the beginning of the war between Japan and the U.S. is usually regarded as the attack on Pearl Harbor. Emperor Hirohito consistently wished for peace. The Japanese government and army attempted to avoid a war between Japan and the U.S. until right before it began, and made great efforts to that end.
However, at the same time Roosevelt signed the JB 355 plan on July 23, 1941 in order to give bombs to the Chiang Kai-shek administration and use American “volunteer soldiers” to bomb the Japanese mainland. In other words, he approved a strike on Japan even before Pearl Harbor. Moreover, at that time the U.S. had deciphered all of Japan’s diplomatic codes and some of the codes of the Japanese navy. The U.S. gained time by babying Japan, which was negotiating with the U.S., in order to avoid the beginning of the war. The U.S. prepared for war and allowed Japan to explode. Even though the U.S. knew that Japan was going to attack Pearl Harbor, it withdrew all of its aircraft carriers and newly produced warships. In this way, it sacrificed the Pacific Fleet in Hawaii.
Bernard Roling, a Dutch man, was one of the judges for the Tokyo Trials. He said that racial discrimination was one of the primary causes of the Pacific War. Historian Arnold Toynbee also praises Japan’s achievements; he said that Japan didn’t only stop the Caucasian invasion into Asia, but also put an end to imperialism, colonialism, and racial discrimination. The first section ends with, “Both Tiger Woods being an active golfer today and the appearance of the first black president are meritorious deeds on the part of Japan. Japan made great sacrifices during World War II in order to call forth the world of racial equality that was dreamed of at the end of the Edo period.”
In the second section, Stokes – from the position of an American – discusses Japan’s achievements from the visit of Perry to the Greater East Asian War. Stokes’ cousin, who belonged to the British army, saw the wings of American fighter aircraft and bombers lined up at an airfield in Rangoon, Burma in the middle of 1941. Stokes writes that his cousin felt righteous indignation regarding how President Roosevelt deluded the American people and made preparations for a war with Japan.
The American continent was invaded by Puritans who crossed the Atlantic Ocean from England and selfishly thought the U.S. was their “promised land.” The U.S. was built in this way, and believed it was endowed with the right to expand its territory. Perry also believed that only white Christians were members of the “civilized” world, and that all other people were savages.
For the ceremony for Japan’s signing of the Instrument of Surrender on the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, Douglas MacArthur sent for the actual national flag that was hoisted by Perry when he arrived by ship in Uraga. In this way, he put on a show for the citizens as if it was the second coming of Perry. In this way, the U.S. fulfilled the desire it had held over the century since the arrival of Perry.
Japan was victorious in the Russo-Japanese War, and also experienced striking triumphs in the beginning of hostilities for the Greater East Asian War. In this way, Japan smashed the illusion that white people were invincible. Furthermore, Japan worked to develop countries, and the Japanese Army held military exercises for local youths in Asia. These things were great help towards the independence of the Asian countries. Because Japan stood up during the Greater East Asian War, there are no colonies in the world, and the entire world has welcomed the ideal of racial equality. Perry was the one who created the impetus for Japan’s rise. Stokes concludes by extolling Japan’s achievements during the Greater East Asian War and saying that Perry opened Pandora’s box.
Japanese people aren’t very aware that international politics are regulated according to the logic of power. Rather than what is right, things are decided by which party is stronger. If lies are publically repeated over and over, they become facts.
Korea is trying to create a historical fact out of the comfort women issue, which never happened – it put up a statue of a comfort woman in front of the Japanese embassy and also attempted to pass a resolution that censures Japan in the U.S. House of Representatives. The same thing applies to the Nanking Massacre theory.
Administrations are the strongest when they have just acquired political power. I hope that the Abe administration will take a firm stand in regards to all of this criticism, which is not based in reality. Zhu Xueqin, a professor at Shanghai University’s Department of History, has pointed out that not even one person exists on a list of victims from the Nanking Massacre. This is true. And because all countries sufficiently mourn the soldiers that gave their precious lives for their country, there is no reason to take people to task for visiting Yasukuni Shrine. It’s bizarre that Japan cannot write freely due to the clauses about our neighboring countries, even in our own textbooks. Just as it says in Why did the U.S. Start a War With Japan?, Japan has walked a path that should result in admiration from all across the world. We need to finally start drawing attention to and asserting this fact.
Abe doesn’t insist on this very much, but that will only last until the House of Councillors election in July. If things continue in this way, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will likely be able to acquire a majority in the House of Councillors as well. After that point, there will be no elections for three years. Afterwards, it’s probable that the LDP will make another bid for the double election in both houses. If so, there will not be an election for another three years.
These six years will be an opportunity for Japan’s revival. The reason there have been six different prime ministers since Junichiro Koizumi served in that position is because of the biased Japanese media. If the government made assertions based on the truth, all at the same time, the anti-Japanese media’s force of argument for rebuttal would fall apart; the media outlets would no longer know how to start criticizing. Making an enemy of the media would, conversely, make supporters of the people.
In the double election for both houses 3.5 years in the future, the LDP and forces that hope for constitutional change gaining two thirds of the seats in both houses would open the way forward towards constitutional reform. This would allow Japan to once again surpass China and return to being the second largest economy in the world. To that end, I hope the Abe administration will remain in its position as long as possible, and that it will work hard to revive Japan as a country that is worthy of pride.
In morning edition of the Asahi Shimbun newspaper on January 12, editor-in-chief Yoshibumi Wakamiya wrote his last article before his compulsory retirement, which was on constitutional reform. He wrote, “Perhaps the day when the constitution is actually revised, and Japan gains a national defense army, is not far off. […] I don’t think it would be entirely hazardous to revise Article Nine.” However, he showed his true feelings when he said, “Article Nine is a message from Japan, which failed due to its militarism in the past.” He concluded by writing, “Even as Japan is provoked by the anti-Japanese Korea, military expansion in China, and nuclear weapons in North Korea, Japan must refrain from attacking its neighbors.”
Yet as clearly shown by the mistaken controversy over school textbooks, the Asahi Shimbun was the creator of the anti-Japanese feeling in East Asia – it has stirred up trouble just to take credit for the solution. The newspaper should reflect sincerely on this. My theory is that Japan will change when the Asahi Shimbun does. Wakamiya said that attacking Abe is Asahi company policy. I hope that Wakamiya’s retirement may become a turning point for the newspaper, which is also shown by the meaningless article he published before his retirement.
(Reference) World GDP ・IMF World Economic Outlook Database (October 2012 edition)
7:00 p.m., January 20, 2013（Sunday）