A Wine Tasting and Discussion about Japan Meeting was held as always on July 6, 2016 at the representative’s home. The guests included Dr. Vasile Bumacov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Moldova to Japan, who has spent time working for companies in the United States and who has also taught at universities; Dr. Robert D. Eldridge, President of the Eldridge ThinkTank, who received an honorable mention at the Japan Study Awards that were established by the Japan Institute for National Fundamentals, where Ms. Yoshiko Sakurai serves as the Chair, and his wife Mrs. Emiko Eldridge; Mr. Lundaa Davaajargal, a Counselor to the Embassy of the Mongolia, who has the same surname as the sumo yokozuna (grand champion) Hakuho; Mr. Osamu Miyata, a free journalist who majored in mechanical engineering and who is an honorary citizen of the State of Maryland; Mr. Fumiya Sako, President of the Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan, who was in the first graduating class of the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management together with Mr. Ichiro Aisawa and Mr. Yoshihiko Noda; and Ms. Yuko Iwasaki, a Director of YU Corporation, who resided in Russia for a long time as a former CA. They talked about a variety of international topics.
There was a national referendum in the United Kingdom in June about whether the country should leave the EU or not. Those looking to leave the EU won this referendum by a narrow margin. It seemed like those looking to remain in the EU would win from the results of opinion polls taken directly before the referendum. However, in the end, the leavers won by surprise. This caused a great deal of chaos in the exchange and stock markets. Trillions and trillions of yen in money disappeared around the globe. It was said that the relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU was of no direct consequence to Japan. Nevertheless, markets here in Japan were also severely impacted with stock prices falling and the value of the yen rising. There are fears that this will lead to a reduction in the number of tourists in the future.
This referendum in the United Kingdom makes it possible to feel the fear of voting that directly reflects the will of the people. An analysis of the results reveals that younger people were more likely to have voted to remain in the EU because they value the advantages of freedom of movement within the borders of Europe. However, at the same time, voter turnout was lower in areas with many young people. There were probably many young people who didn’t go to the polls because they anticipated that the country would vote to remain due to the opinion polls taken directly before the referendum.
Mr. Boris Johnson, a member of the House of Commons for the Conservative Party and the former Mayor of London, was originally in favor of remaining in the EU, but he switched his allegiances to those seeking to leave in February of this year. However, it seems likely that even he did not really expect the United Kingdom to vote for leaving the EU. Even though he was one of the major contenders to become leader of the Conservative Party after the resignation of Prime Minister Cameron, he suddenly pulled out of this race. A petition calling for the referendum to be re-run was signed by more than four million people, but the British government has formally rejected this. Nevertheless, if the future EU withdrawal negotiations do not work out or if a major recession hits the United Kingdom, there is a possibility an opportunity will arise to once again hold this referendum within a few years. Mr. Trump, presidential candidate of the Republican Party in the United States, was also hit by this referendum. He blessed the victory of those seeking to leave the EU as he supports putting your own country first – even in the case of the United Kingdom. However, his approval ratings plummeted after this. It is really true that no one knows what the future holds.
This withdrawal from the EU is being called “Brexit” (a word coined from “British” and “exit”). However, there are many people saying that this choice was a mistake when looked at objectively. Certainly, there has historically been a sense of distance toward the EU from the United Kingdom. However, the industrial structure of the United Kingdom in recent years has been built under the assumption that the country has access to the EU market. Prime Minister Cameron of the Conservative Party seized victory in the general election last year with the promise of holding this referendum. However, he should never have made such a risky promise in the first place. Moreover, the media was guilty of fueling the calls to hold a referendum on this issue. National referendums are held in accordance with democratic principles. However, democracy is not always perfect as a political system; it is simply better than communism. We must never forget the fact that Hitler took the position of fuhrer after winning support with a national referendum. The United Kingdom is now not sure what to do after having decided to leave the EU.
The EU has maintained peace for over 60 years since the last world war. This led to the organization winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012. The EU was the best choice for Europe. On the other hand, the EU also has the significance of opposing a world dominated only by the United States. For example, the United States got involved in the Middle East, which was conventionally the territory of Europe, in the Gulf War. Europe came together as the EU to oppose such actions by the United States. The main feature of the EU is the freedom of movement within its borders. The benefit of this is huge when you think about the fact there were once immigration checks at all the national borders. However, the problem for member states is that there has been an influx of refugees and immigrants. Once refugees from the Middle East (e.g. Syria) enter an EU member state, they then become able to move around freely within this region.
After the last world war, all the countries in Europe and the United States made the move toward democratization and peace. The sole exception to this was the Soviet Union and then later Russia. The influence of Russia is still strong even now. This has led to Moldova aiming to join the EU to escape this. Moldova is located in a spot that has been historically fought over by the countries surrounding this nation (e.g. Ottoman Turkey, Russia and Germany). The remains of many fortifications can be found in this country. Approximately 3.5 million people live in Moldova in an area of land that is slightly smaller than Kyushu. The national language is Moldavian, which is close to Romanian. However, the entire population can also speak Russian. Most people believe in the religion of the Russian Orthodox Church. About five percent of the population is Turkish in origin, but they also follow the religion of the Russian Orthodox Church. Moldova is a nation-state that has been invaded by various countries over the years. However, it is said that this is a successful example of multi-ethnic integration. In addition, Moldova is known for making some of the highest quality wines in the world due to its great land and climate. Wines are also one of the country’s agricultural products, but this complexity is attractive. It is possible to feel the essence of various agricultural crops, such as flowers, fruits and spices, from one bottle of wine.
The US presidential election has finally entered the stage of a duel between the two candidates of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. However, Mrs. Clinton, the winner of the primary contest in the Democratic Party, is under suspicion of having committed the crime of leaking state secrets. This stems from the fact she used her personal server to send e-mails relating to official business. There are also suspicions that the Republican Party’s Mr. Trump may have committed fraud with the establishment of Trump University. Moreover, there is the question of whether Mr. Trump has solicited political funds from non-US citizens. If legal action is taken in these allegations, it is only natural that this will lead to that individual being dropped as candidate to be president. The FBI has put out a statement that they will not take legal action against Mrs. Clinton. However, if legal action is pursued against both individuals, there will be an unprecedented situation in which the reset button will be pressed on the presidential campaigns for both the Democratic Party and Republican Party. Furthermore, if legal action is not taken against either party because they are presidential candidates, there will be those who will say that they would have been arrested a long time ago if they were ordinary citizens. Nevertheless, there is no way that both individuals will be knocked out of the presidential race at the same time. “Justice” converges on the strong regardless of whether they are right or not. Whether Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Trump, the loser in the presidential election will no doubt see the suspicions against them pursued further.
Mr. Trump has filed for divorce three times, been made bankrupt four times and this is now his third time to seek the office of president. He is someone with a wealth of life experience who understands both the sweetness and sourness of humanity. The strategy he came up with to survive the presidential primary election was to make extreme statements that could not be beaten by ordinary remarks. This was successful and he was able to become the candidate of the Republican Party. However, since it was decided that Mrs. Clinton will not be prosecuted for using her private e-mail for official business, President Obama has been able to declare his support for her. This is an attempt by the Democratic Party to show their unity centered on Mrs. Clinton. On the other hand, Mr. Trump has seen a downturn in his popularity with a hairstyle, face and remarks similar to that of Mr. Boris Johnson – the man who made the decision not to stand in the election to become the leader of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom. It is necessary for the Republican Party to come together as one in order to once again boost his approval ratings. He must surely choose a vice-presidential candidate from the mainstream of the Republican Party in order to achieve that.
The TPP problem divides opinions among conservatives in Japan with many people opposing this treaty. However, it is important to realize as soon as possible that the decision about whether to participate in the TPP is a choice between partnering up with the United States or China besides the trade and economic issues. If Japan partners up with the United States rather than China, it must join the TPP of course. This is not the time for in-fighting among conservatives over trivial matters. It is necessary to have a greater field of vision when considering policies.
There is a debate about whether Japan should now introduce conscription in order to train the mental strength of young people. In fact, many young people apply to join the Self-Defense Forces every year. It seems there is no real need to introduce conscription. In addition, the true abilities of the Self-Defense Forces are greater than that reported by the media in Japan. The naval strengths of the Self-Defense Forces are overwhelming greater than those of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Although China is now greatly increasing its air strength, the Self-Defense Forces of Japan still have the upper hand. This is because the People’s Liberation Army originally placed great focus on its land forces. Japan would be in trouble if it lost its air and naval superiority. However, as long as this does not happen, the People’s Liberation Army will not be able to cross the Sea of Japan and attack mainland Japan. The naval forces of Japan are second in the world only to the United States; Japan has even surpassed the former naval forces of the United Kingdom. However, this will not be sufficient in the future. China is taking a strong stand on the issue of the Senkaku Islands. Nevertheless, Japan should first sink unidentified ships from China that have entered our territorial waters. Suspicious ships from North Korea should be sunk until no more come into our territory.
The United States has decided to reduce its defense budget by five trillion yen per year. The US forces stationed in Okinawa will also be reduced in the future. In line with this, Japan should increase its own defense budget and also change the quality of this. If we think about a balance of military power, defense capabilities alone will not act as a deterrent if we need to protect our country. This means we will need a lot of equipment and a large budget. In order to avoid this, Japan should develop and possess offensive weapons using our state-of-the-art technologies. For example, all the linear and gun barrel technologies adopted in the railguns scheduled to be fitted to state-of-the-art Zumwalt-class destroyers of the United States have been provided by Japan. Japan should also make use of these technologies to develop our own offensive weapons. Moreover, it is evident from history that military technologies lead to the creation of private enterprise technologies. It would be desirable in the future to research and develop state-of-the-art technologies bearing in mind military affairs. It is said that the development of Artifical Intelligence and the Internet of Things will lead to a future in which we no longer need certified public accountants or lawyers. Nevertheless, computers are only capable of applying analysis of the past to the present. They are not able to make predictions about the future. Just with respect to military affairs, it is likely that there will be more and more battles in the future that do not require fighting between humans with the intensification of cyber warfare and the advent of robot weapons.