Up until now I have continually asserted 18 times over the past eight months in Apple Town and other mediums that Republican candidate Donald Trump’s victory in the American presidential election would be a turning point for Japan to become a country capable of independent self-defense. For example, I said this four times at the Wine Tasting and Discussion about Japan meeting on March 2 (“Birth of President Trump: Opportunity for Japanese Independence”), five times at the Shoheijuku school on March 17 (“The possibility of a Trump victory is growing”), four times in Big Talk on April 1 (“If Mr. Trump becomes the president, it will be a great opportunity for Japan to achieve true independence”), and five times in this essay on April 21 (“A Trump presidency would be a major opportunity for Japan’s independence”). I suddenly received a telephone call after 5:00 p.m. on Election Day. I was surprised to learn that the caller was Minister for Reconstruction Masahiro Imamura, who appeared on Big Talk in July of this year, congratulating me on Trump’s win. I remember that we discussed how Trump’s presidency could be a type of shock therapy for Japan. I will reprint part of the October issue of Apple Town here.
(I) Yes. Today it is difficult to predict how world affairs will shake out in the near future, so Japan cannot be complacent about peace and assume the U.S will always protect us. In that way, maybe Trump’s appearance is a good type of shock therapy for Japan.
The American presidential election increasingly became a mudslinging match as Election Day approached. All of the newspapers, television programs, and media outlets repeatedly attacked Trump, such as discussing allegations of sexual harassment from 30 years ago.
During the final stage, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had a lead of four to six points over Trump. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) re-opened the investigation into Clinton’s e-mails discovered on a device shared by top Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her husband. After this “October surprise” announcement on October 28 (Friday), the approval ratings of the two candidates were suddenly very close. The FBI re-investigated hundreds of thousands of e-mails in just eight days amidst vehement objections regarding the timing of the announcement. It reported to Congress two days before the election that no legal action would be taken. However, it is thought that this caused a backlash against the Clinton side for placing pressure on the FBI, which led to Trump’s victory.
This election was not a fight based on policy, but a battle of exposing and insulting the other candidate. The one-sided media continually reported that Clinton and Trump were neck and neck. It seems that the polling data was misleading because five million secret Trump supporters and other people did not answer accurately because of these continual media reports. American products don’t sell across the world because they are too expensive due to global deflation, and white laborers whose jobs were stolen by illegal immigrants were angry at the declining United States. They looked critically at Clinton, who was supported by people with vested interests. Their strong support won the election for Trump, who promised to “make America great again.”
Trump’s presidency may completely transform worldwide military affairs, finance, foreign exchange, and taxation. It also marked the temporary demise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is opposed by the white laborers who are Trump’s main constituency.
As a strategy against China, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is strengthening relations with Russia as the final step of his diplomacy with an overhead view of the world. Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Yamaguchi Prefecture on December 15. The major goal of the Japanese side is to conclude a Russo-Japanese peace treaty to resolve the Northern Territories issue. As Putin indicated when he called the issue a draw, the crucial thing will be to find points of compromise for both. Japan should probably come to a conclusion based on its wisdom, such as joint rule in which territorial rights and government rights are considered separately. The U.S. and European Union placed economic sanctions on Russia for the Ukraine issue, so resolving the Northern Territories issue and entering into a peace treaty with Japan is Russia’s only hope for escaping from its current circumstances. This is also an opportunity for Japan, which has previously only placed loose economic sanctions on Russia to try to solve this issue. I think that a solution would also result in stronger ties between Japan and Russia particularly in the economic realm, such as economic assistance from Japan to Russia and lively Japanese investment in natural gas in Siberia. A close Russo-Japanese relationship would be an extremely effective encircling net around China, which traditionally views Russia as a threat.
In the background of the American election, which turned into a free-for-all, was the fact that the U.S. lost its hold on global financial dominance with the end of the Cold War between the East and West. The U.S. had previously ruled the Western world in the post-World War II era through the International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations, and World Trade Organization (WTO), but this changed to international financial capital, which insisted on the rightness of the “global standard.” The end of the war brought down the Iron Curtain dividing the U.S. and Western Bloc countries, which enjoyed affluence until the Cold War, and the Eastern Bloc, which included countries like Russia and China with much larger numbers of poor people.
If you put a partition in an aquarium to create different water levels in the two parts, when the partition is removed the levels will fall in the higher section and rise in the lower one. The water in the aquarium will also be choppy and rough for some time. That is precisely what is happening now. Factories were moved to take advantage of cheap labor in the East, and the low-priced products made there were brought to the West. This resulted in lowered commodity prices, deflation, and reduced interest rates. In contrast, the products made with expensive Western manpower did not sell well, so factories were closed and more people lost their jobs. At first this was limited to products, but eventually people from the East came to the West in search of well-paid jobs, which spurred the rising unemployment rate. The only people who benefited from this were from a group of three families that can be described as a financial conglomerate group. Namely, these major capitalists were the Morgan and Rothschild families, which do business throughout the West, and the American Rockefeller family. They have paid almost no taxes on their enormous profits thanks to tax havens. Under the so-called “global standard,” this money flowed into the financial world in which cross-national boundaries have been removed, resulting in further lowered interest rates as this money grew into vast capital.
I think it is very probable that Japan will experience asset hyperinflation after this era of global deflation and ultra-low interest rates. To guard against this, the general public can use the method of buying homes at low mortgage rates as soon as possible. Workers with no capital or assets will become increasingly impoverished. Like Thomas Piketty asserted in Capital in the Twenty-first Century, this has resulted in 1% of people being wealthy and 99% being poor. The number of immigrants continues growing in the U.S., which is being transformed from a white nation to one of color. Amidst this trend, Trump won the hearts of the white demographic that became poor due to structural causes. Furthermore, President Barack Obama’s victory eight years ago was another underlying cause of Trump’s popularity. The poor whites withstood eight years underneath Obama, a black man endorsed by the international finance capitalists that prospered across the globe while keeping a tight grip on information, law, and the financial circles. The whites were leery of this international financial capital as they grew poor because their jobs were taken by low-wage immigrants. Trump won over these whites due to the backlash that wants to overturn all of these structures.
In contrast to the mass media that has long had strong influence, the rightness of the democratic political system is more frequently being questioned on Twitter, Facebook, and other types of social media where regular people can express themselves widely. People don’t mind telling lies in order to push forward their own views. Trump, who was originally seen only as a fringe candidate, won the hard-fought election to become the president-elect because he purposefully spoke reckless words to monopolize the media according to his strategy. In this way, he took advantage of the weaknesses of democracy. Before the end of the Cold War, democracy was regarded as superior to socialism and communism, which were in direct opposition to this institution. However, after the collapse of the Soviet Union – the leader of communism – there are many phenomena like the Trump victory that make one question the political system of democracy.
Another example is the national referendum that determined the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, also referred to as “Brexit.” Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London who was a leader in the Brexit faction, inflamed the anti-EU sentiment by saying that immigrants steal jobs from British citizens and that the UK’s monetary contributions to the EU used to pay high bureaucratic salaries total roughly 48 billion yen. But after the national referendum, he admitted that the amount of money is actually one third that figure. Mistaken information is spread by the media and on the Internet, causing people to act in emotional ways and making them unwilling to listen to correct, rational rebuttals. Right now, “post-truth politics” leveraging the media are a problem in the UK, U.S., and across the world. During the Iraq War in 2003, the U.S. claimed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, sent the U.S. Armed Forces to Iraq, created massive emergency war demand, and toppled the Saddam Hussein administration. There were no weapons of mass destruction, but no one has been held responsible for this.
A similar issue is happening in Japan today regarding the Tsukiji market relocation. This furor, which is a fuss about nothing, started because the new market structures were outfitted with basement areas rather than the ground being topped off with soil there. The common wisdom of civil engineering and construction says these basement areas are safer and offer improved building stability. If the ground were raised, it would be necessary to control the toxic substances that rise up from the deep underground in the replaced soil due to the capillary phenomenon. Underground spaces also make it simpler to deal with any problems that arise and cut building costs. People are panicking about how the underground water at the site is alkaline and contains toxic substances slightly over the standard value, but this standard is for potable water and is set to ensure no health effects when drinking two liters each day for 70 years. The water from Toyosu will not be used as drinking water or even for cleaning, and it is only common sense that water penetrating into a concrete underground space will be alkaline. My guess is that Tokyo Metropolitan Government officials purposefully changed the design without a public announcement in order to preserve the honor of the expert council of this quality and carry out the construction while receiving practical gains. First, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government should tell residents that Toyosu is cleaner and safer than Tsukiji or other markets. Expenses that must be borne by the people of Tokyo are piling up as people are encouraged to feel needless anxiety and the relocation is further delayed.
The true nature of this issue is just like the contamination from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The decontamination standard was set at one millisievert, which was entirely unnecessary, and the cost totaling trillions of yen has been shifted to the people through taxes and electric power charges. Then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan shut down Chubu Electric Power’s Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station with no legal basis, which led to operations being stopped at nuclear plants across Japan. To make up for this, oil for thermal power generation is being purchased from wealthy foreign countries (major oil companies) to the tune of four trillion yen a year. These are all examples of regular people suffering because the politicians and mass media circulated incorrect information without distinguishing the truth.
Obama’s biggest mistake over the past eight years was his announcement that the U.S. would no longer be the “world’s policeman.” This resulted in Russia annexing the Crimean Peninsula and starting civil war in Ukraine. The U.S. Armed Forces withdrew from Iraq, leading to the ascendance of IS. China has begun reclaiming reefs in the South China Sea and building military bases. Up until now, the U.S. would have simultaneously obstructed all of these things. As the U.S. is withdrawing across the world, China is implementing an expansion policy to gain hegemony in the Pacific Ocean. Japan, located between these two countries, needs the leadership of a resolute, long-term government to maintain peace in these circumstances. Today it is only natural for governments across the world to be in power for many years, and finally the LDP president’s term of office has been extended to three terms for a total of nine years. It looks like Abe will be in power until the year 2021.
The Chinese president’s term of office is two terms (10 years) according to an unwritten rule that has been obeyed by both Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. However, the current President Xi Jinping has purged the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao factions in a power struggle he calls a “fight against corruption.” Even if he surrendered his power to another president after two terms (10 years), it is very likely that Xi Jinping will not give up his positions as party president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, making China into his own empire.
Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte is quickly cozying up to China. Since his inauguration in June, more than 2,000 people have been shot to death by police under Duterte’s powerful will to eradicate drug-related crime. Obama criticized this as a human rights violation, to which Duterte rashly suggested that Obama go to hell. When Duterte visited China, he declared the Philippines will separate from the U.S. without touching on the South China Sea issue, and China agreed to give 2.5 trillion yen of aid. Duterte is an intellectual man and former public prosecutor who is fond of Japan, so he acted very gentlemanly during his visit to Japan. He put on a unique performance for the Filipino citizens by chewing gum during his meeting with Xi Jinping and speaking thoughtlessly of Obama. Just as Duterte planned, he is amazingly popular in the Philippines. He gained popularity among the common people by advocating the doctrine of putting the Philippines first and created a situation in which the media had no choice but to go along with it. This is extremely similar to Trump’s tactics and goes against the fundaments of democracy on a grand scale.
In South Korea, a television station had a scoop revealing the relationship between President Park Geun-hye and her friend Choi Soon-sil, which caused a major scandal. In all of these examples including Brexit, Trump, and Duterte, the media is trifling with a democratic system and threatening its position. I think another good example is how the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came into power with strong backing from the Japanese media even though it had no practical experience, for which we are still paying enormous costs. As the mass media continues leading people by the nose, we keenly need a third-party institution to check the media that barely verifies information before spreading it around. We must do something before post-truth politics run even more rampant.
We also must answer the question of whether democracy is actually a better institution than dictatorship. Although I am not in favor of this, China became an economic power in a short time because it is a single-party regime that takes less time to do things than Japan, where 30 or 40 years are required just to obtain land for public works. The bloated China may swallow Japan and make it into one of its autonomous regions. We must discuss means of opposing this with a global focus.
The nuclear umbrella no longer exists as North Korea conducts multiple tests to gain the ability to launch a direct nuclear strike at the U.S. In this it is emulating China, which already possesses nuclear deterrence against the U.S. Japan is surrounded by nuclear states and is the country most threatened by nuclear arms. Still, even after Trump is inaugurated I suspect that people in Japan, the U.S., and China would strongly oppose Japan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. If so, I believe Japan should conduct negotiations towards a nuclear sharing agreement like that between the U.S. and Germany and Italy (countries it defeated in World War II). Japan’s continued existence as a democratic nation will be determined by Abe’s high approval rating and whether we can build a close relationship with the U.S. under Trump, promptly abandon our utopian worldview, and reform the constitution. The Trump presidency will assist the Abe administration that strives to make Japan capable of independent self-defense, and amending the constitution during Abe’s term of office would directly lead to peace and prosperity in Japan and Asia. To deter war, we must also develop weapons that can be used for both defense and offense such as cutting-edge scientific weapons like rail guns and laser guns. We must assume that the era of imperialism is dawning in which the logic of power will rule based on the doctrine of nations putting themselves first.
November 10 (Thursday), 2:00 a.m.