I have made four visits to Nice, a resort area in Côte d’Azur in the south of France, and have stayed at The Negresco Hotel, which is a symbol of the city. A large truck rammed into a crowd gathered for Bastille Day fireworks near this hotel on July 14. As of July 16, this horrible tragedy has resulted in 84 deaths and 52 serious injuries. At first it seemed like this was a planned terrorist act by IS due to reports that the truck was bulletproof and there were three perpetrators. However, the truck was actually a rental with regular specifications and only one person carried out the attack. IS announced it was responsible during a radio broadcast on July 16, but it is unclear whether IS was in direct contact with the criminal. This attack may have been carried out by a lone wolf who sympathized with the ideologies of IS but received no particular instructions from IS. This totally unforeseen act by an unmarked person was a devastating act of terrorism in which many people were massacred by a bus. It was unlike the shooting of “soft targets” by multiple terrorists in November of last year in Paris and the suicide bombing at the Brussels Airport in March.
During the Cold War, democracy was significant because it seemed a better political system than communism. But now that 27 years have passed since the end of the Cold War and destruction of communism, trust is being shaken in democracy that believes in the good intentions of the majority. In all eras, technology changes society. The Internet has created a world in which one party is strong and the rest are weak; the minority rejoices in its great prosperity, while the dissatisfactions of the significant majority remain unresolved. Donald Trump, the Republican candidate in the American presidential election, has focused on this fact. He has been married three times and seen his business fail four times. This is his third run for president over the past 30 years. Just like I expected, he has become the Republican presidential candidate. In society, there are always significantly more poor people than affluent ones, and always many more members of the non-elite group than the elite group. To capture the hearts of the majority (these poor and non-elite), Trump successfully achieved his goal by promising to “make America great again” based on popularism, saying the United States will prioritize its own concerns and stop participating in world affairs, and that he will create jobs and maintain social order by expelling immigrants. Next, he is facing a one-on-one fight against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate. The presidential election is a struggle between organizations. Clinton, who has reconciled with her rival Bernie Sanders and is supported by President Barack Obama, has taken the lead while expressing a feeling of Democratic unity. Her approval rating was lower than Trump’s, but she successfully achieved a turnaround.
I have long insisted that Trump’s choice of a vice president will be an important point in whether or not he can unify the Republican Party. In a past essay, I expressed my opinion that Trump would choose an appealing female vice president who is a young, beautiful, and not white. I also insisted that he must select someone who is supported by the main Republic faction. However, on July 16 the Morning Edition of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported as follows on Pence, Trump’s choice:
I think Trump actually approached women like I mentioned previously, including Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley and Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin. I suspect they said no and he had no other choice but Pence, whose only qualification is his strong ties with the main faction.
Predictions say the presidential election will be a harsh battle. The Republican Party certainly does not want to allow the Democrats to continue governing after two terms totaling eight years – it must help Trump to victory, even though he is not a member of the main faction. On the other hand, it will be difficult for Trump to beat Clinton without the backing of the party organization, so I guess that he will make a steady trajectory change before the election to policy that is in line with the main faction in the realms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), diplomacy, and security. Clinton has evaded legal action on the e-mail issue, perhaps because of political pressure, yet the American public opinion is more negative than expected. Clinton had a higher approval rating than Trump at one point in time, but a public opinion poll published by The New York Times on July 14 indicated they are even with approval ratings of 40% each.
At the Republican Convention Rules Committee meetings before the GOP Convention on July 14 and 15, a reform bill supported by multiple delegates was struck down. Party bylaws state that delegates must vote according to the results of primaries and caucuses. However, some delegates were aiming to block Trump’s nomination by changing the bylaws, allowing delegates to vote at the national convention according to their own consciences. This attempt by the anti-Trump faction ended in failure, removing one more obstacle to his nomination. The GOP Convention will take place in Cleveland, Ohio over four days from July 18.
The GOP Convention was unlike any before. Rather than influential Republicans, it featured appearances by persons such as athletes and famous businessmen to appeal to the general public. It looks like Trump’s road to the presidency will be a turbulent one.
In Japan, the ruling party won an overwhelming victory in the House of Councillors election on July 10, and forces in favor of constitutional change gained two thirds of the seats in the upper house. National Diet members who want to amend the constitution already occupy two thirds of the seats in the House of Representatives, so they can now make proposals for constitutional reform.
A gubernatorial election is also underway in Tokyo. Yuriko Koike, who is somewhat removed from the main LDP faction, believed she had little chance of winning and has decided to play rock-paper-scissors by being the first to announce her candidacy before the official LDP candidate is chosen. The LDP Tokyo Chapter opposes her, and its official candidate is Hiroya Masuda, a former Ministry of Construction bureaucrat who has served as governor of Iwate Prefecture and minister of internal affairs and communications. The opposition parties see this split LDP election as a good opportunity. As the result of the continuous joint struggle in the House of Councillors and thinking about which candidate could win, it revoked its support for former Japan Federation of Bar Associations President Kenji Utsunomiya, who had already been announced as a candidate. The new unified candidate for the opposition parties is Shuntaro Torigoe, a journalist from the generation in which the first U.S.-Japan Security Treaty was signed. However, Torigoe has no views on the world, history, or the nation, and is also poorly informed about today’s global economy and military affairs. He also lacks any concrete policies related to the metropolitan government. Torigoe said he is running for governor to obstruct constitutional reform by the powers in favor of constitutional change, who gained two thirds of the seats in the House of Councillors election, but he is barking up the wrong tree. The opposition parties are attempting to hold a popularity contest with Torigoe. In 1995, Yukio Aoshima ran for governor of Tokyo and Knock Yokoyama ran for governor of Osaka, which was referred to as the “Aoshima-Knock Phenomenon.” They became popular figures known across the nation thanks to television and other mediums, and were successfully elected by winning swing votes. The opposition alliance is trying to do this again, but it is an anachronism.
We must not think of this gubernatorial election as a split LDP election. It is not a fight between Koike and Masuda; it is a battle in which actions must be taken to obstruct the election of Torigoe, who is backed by the Japanese Communist Party (JCP). Yet the LDP Tokyo Chapter put out a document entitled, “Regarding the Maintenance of Party Discipline in the Tokyo Gubernatorial Election.” It reads, “If Diet members of various ranks (including their relatives, etc.) support a non-recommended candidate, they may be punished by measures such as expulsion based on the Party Regulations, Tokyo Chapter Bylaws, and Regulations on Rewards and Punishments.” The Masuda camp destroyed itself with the phrase, “including their relatives, etc.” Torigoe is running for an utterly unsuitable reason and has proposed no policies for the metropolitan government. He declined to appear in public debates because he was afraid that his lack of policy would be revealed, and has also cancelled televised discussions. In this way, he self-destructed when he was seen as a candidate that has run away from public debate and has no opinions on policy.
Among the three candidates, Koike had the lead in the first public opinion poll announced by a major media outlet on July 17. She is well versed in the metropolitan government and advocates for the complete revocation of municipal land lending to South Korean schools and opposes voting rights for foreign residents. She is standing her ground even without the official recognition of the LDP, for which she is highly appraised. She will win in the end by thoroughly criticizing Torigoe, who has joined hands with the JCP, and abstaining from criticism of Masuda. The common front between the DPJ, Social Democratic Party, JCP, and The People’s Life Party is an illicit union. They have fundamentally different ways of thinking, so they can set forth no specific policies besides their stance of opposing Shinzo Abe. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be a golden opportunity to declare Japan’s presence to the world, so the national government must join forces with the Tokyo metropolitan government to make this event a success.
The world today seems to be retrogressing from democracy to imperialism in which the strong rules the weak. The Philippines initiated proceedings at The Hague on the issue of the South China Sea. The final judgment approved absolutely none of China’s claims, yet the Chinese government has totally rejected this decision. Meanwhile, the U.S. must cut its military spending by five trillion yen a year regardless of who the next president is. It has determined a path of withdrawing from East Asia and reducing the Marines stationed in Okinawa.
Trump stated that the U.S. Forces in Japan would be withdrawn unless Japan pays all costs for stationing them there, and that he would approve the acquisition of nuclear arms by Japan and South Korea. Ever since the U.S. massacred the Native Americans while moving westward to the West Coast, its dearest wish has been hegemony of the Pacific Ocean. I am not sure if Trump is unaware of this or choosing to ignore it. Commodore Matthew C. Perry brought his Black Ships to Japan in 1853 to achieve Pacific hegemony. The flag from his flagship, the USS Susquehanna, was displayed at the Instrument of Surrender signing ceremony on the USS Missouri after World War II, signifying that the U.S. had finally achieved its earnest desire. The American bases in Japan are for maintaining this hegemony. Still, Trump’s statement is an opportunity for Japan. If he becomes president, I believe Japan should move towards becoming an independent nation with nuclear arms. We must somehow maintain a balance of power in East Asia even while China is acting rashly, and nuclear weapons are a source of power. The U.S. has fully opposed Japan’s possession of nuclear arms in the past, so Japan should take part in the nuclear sharing arrangement between the U.S. and four NATO countries (Germany, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands). Moreover, we should prevent war by amending the current constitution that invites war and making the Japan Self-Defense Forces into a defensive army with offensive abilities.
Tension is increasing across the world in areas besides East Asia. As shown by the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union and the Trump phenomenon, the doctrine of putting one’s own country first is making a sweeping conquest. Currency is fluctuating violently due to the U.K.’s decision to withdraw from the EU in a national referendum, stock prices crashed, and it is said that market capitalization was temporarily lost across the globe to the tune of 215 trillion yen. However, stock prices and exchange rates are regaining stability as of mid-July.
I once travelled around Europe in a rental car. I recall that it was a very inconvenient place to drive since you immediately arrive at a national border after traveling for just a short time. Today there are no immigration inspections and there is a common currency, so it is a very convenient place. In the U.K., the people who receive major benefits from this union are the young people who frequently travel for university education or job-hunting, and many young people wanted to stay in the EU. It is said that one reason behind the victory of the pro-Brexit faction is that young people felt peace of mind because public opinion polls before the national referendum indicated that their faction would win, which resulted in a lower voter turnout.
Prime Minister David Cameron resigned to take responsibility for this decision. Member of Parliament Boris Johnson, who served a leading role in the Brexit faction and was seen as the strongest contender to replace Cameron, deserted under enemy fire when he announced he would abstain from the Conservative Party election. Theresa May, who wanted to stay in the EU, became the first female prime minister since Margaret Thatcher, and Johnson, who instigated the talk about withdrawal, ended up as secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs. The U.K. will take part in discussions about leaving the EU underneath May’s command. Four million people signed a petition asking for a re-vote, yet Parliament rejected it. In the future negotiations, I believe there is still a chance for the U.K. to remain through a second national referendum. However, I do feel this may be the beginning of the collapse of the EU and its bloated bureaucracy.
Radical Islamic terrorism and fighting is intensifying in Europe and the Middle East. It is safe to say that the beginning of the end of IS was when Russia started air strikes to maintain the Bashar al-Assad administration in Syria. In June, IS lost control of Fallujah in central Iraq, which it had maintained for 2.5 years. All it has left is Mosul, its largest base. However, terrorism is spreading across the world in inverse proportion to the areas lost by IS. The terrorist attack in Nice was carried out by a man who was unsatisfied with his daily life. It is highly possible that he read about IS’s extreme ideologies online and agreed with them, which led him to commit this crime by himself. Today, terrorism can occur anywhere and against anybody, but I do think things will calm down at some point.
An attempted coup d’état took place in Turkey on July 16. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is clearly attempting to change Turkey from its traditional secularism into a strongly Muslim country, and it is very probable that part of the army carried out this coup d’état because they wanted Turkey to be even more of a Muslim nation. To suppress the coup d’état, Erdoğan arrested more than 7,000 army and legal personnel and also removed civil servants in the faction of Fethullah Gülen, a religious leader who is his political opponent. He declared a state of emergency and purged this faction as a way to strengthen his dictatorial system.
Conflict within monotheistic religions is not something that just began, nor is it limited to Islam. The religious war between the Catholics and Protestants, which lasted for 30 years in Europe, was ended with the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. In contrast, Japan believes in the existence of eight million gods and has maintained peace since ancient times. More citizens should be aware of this fact.
The mass media is recently stirring up the talk about the Emperor of Japan abdicating while he is alive. Japan has long had a system in which a regent can be put in place if the Emperor is unable to perform his duties. It is thought that these concepts of abdication and a female emperor, as well as the drastic reduction of princely houses, were occupation policies by the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (GHQ) aimed at the natural demise of the Imperial Family. Albert Einstein said, “The way to being a world-leading power is not military force or money; a nation must have a longer history than all other countries and the world’s oldest, most precious pedigree. World culture began in Asia and will return to Asia. Japan must be the peak of Asia. We are thankful to God for creating the country of Japan for the human race.”
I will dedicate even more efforts to business and expressing my views in the future to help revive Japan as a nation that is worthy of pride.
July 20 (Wednesday), 2016 9:30 p.m.