The Road to Constitutional Reform

Seiji Fuji

Seeing the booming American economy in Las Vegas

 This year, I was once again invited to the 2019 New Year Celebration at the Bellagio Las Vegas, and I attended as is my usual custom. This year’s theme was “Gold,” and it was the most fantastic and exciting of these parties I have gone to for about six years in a row. I also got a sense of how the American economy is prospering from the bustling activity in Las Vegas.
 I viewed KÀ by Cirque du Soleil at the MGM Grand Las Vegas, and enjoyed an even better version of the Celine Dion show at Caesars Palace, which I have seen three times. Moreover, I saw the latest version of “O” at the Bellagio. This was my third time viewing the show, and I enjoyed it in a VIP room with wine. Next, I made a slightly delayed entrance into the New Year Celebration venue, where I was reunited with the retired United States Air Force general whom I always share a table with. He is 87 years old, was shot down in the Vietnam War, and is a great fan of my essays.
 Before my departure, the general e-mailed me and requested that I bring two copies of the Apple Town December issue (No. 340). The general had a photocopy of the English translation of my essay under the penname “Seiji Fuji” from that issue. He pointed at Apple Town, saying, “That’s it!” He wrote “For Trump” on it and told me he wanted to give it to President Donald J. Trump and recommend that Trump refer to these “fantastic essays” in his policies.

The U.S. thought economic prosperity would lead China to democracy

 My essay in the December issue was entitled, “Japan Should Be Ready for the Burst of the Chinese Bubble.” The first subtitle was, “The Chinese economy is in danger due to the Sino-American trade war.”
 The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Morning Edition published an article entitled, “China Makes First Move Out of Caution Against Sudden Stock Fall: Depreciation Pressure on Yuan.” It read, “China has implemented monetary easing three times in 2018. This substantiates the sense of economic crisis felt by the Xi Jinping leadership due to the trade war with the United States.”

I wrote:
This article is of a tone expected from the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, a paper with a pro-China stance, but the real situation is even more severe. The October edition of the magazine Sentaku contained an article entitled, “Bubble Burst: China Repeats Japan’s Mistakes as Chinese Economy Heads to ‘Lost 20 Years,’” which said, “It is certain the Chinese economy will be in a predicament very similar to Japan’s ‘Lost 20 Years.’”
American stock prices fell suddenly on October 10 due to this Sino-American quarrel (which goes beyond trade issues, and is today impacting both of these countries’ structures) and rising long-term interest rates in the U.S. Market crashes spread to Japan, Asia, and across the world, and stock prices have fallen while fluctuating violently afterwards. However, I think the Chinese stock price drop is fundamentally different from Japan and the U.S., and that Japanese and American stock prices will stabilize and rise in the near future.

 The next subtitle was, “Wage suppression and unemployment in the U.S. are points at issue in Sino-American trade friction.”

The Chinese economy grew so suddenly because the U.S. rapidly became close to China for its honorable withdrawal from the Vietnam War in 1971 (the middle of the Cold War, a time of intense conflict between China and the Soviet Union). They effectively restored diplomatic relations, including a joint declaration, and then officially normalized diplomatic relations in 1979. The U.S. believed that China would eventually become a democratic nation after achieving economic prosperity. It recognized China as a free trading partner based on three conditions: not exporting revolution, not invading Taiwan, and not waging aggressive war. This trend expanded to other Western countries as well, resulting in cheap Chinese products (made with low-wage Chinese labor) spreading across the globe in the blink of an eye, and China becoming the factory of the world. In particular, the U.S. – a major consumer – became China’s most important market.
The global economy provides golden opportunities for rich businesspeople to accumulate more wealth, but without fail it also suppresses workers’ wages and leads to unemployment. The American unemployment rate soared as its trade deficit with China grew.
The Chinese economic bubble will burst due to the Sino-American cold war

My essay continues:
In his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump touted an “America First” policy and advocated for banishing the trade deficit to gain support from people who had lost their jobs. To fulfill this promise by reducing the trade deficit, after taking office Trump has denounced China for stealing and using American technologies and expertise, and has sanctioned China with massive tariffs on imported Chinese goods. Issues in past trade friction were the prices and quantities of exported and imported goods, but the theme of the current Sino-American trade war is different and more basic.
Now that the U.S has a harsh stance against China, Japan should take this ideal opportunity not to be friendly to China, but rather to assert to China that it must leave the Senkaku Islands (which are Japanese territory) alone.

 The next subtitle is, “Asia is abandoning China out of fear of insolvency.”

The year 2049 will mark 100 years since the founding of China, which is implementing its “Hundred-Year Marathon” strategy to overtake the U.S. as a major power in all realms and grasp global hegemony. Xi, who became president in 2013, is strengthening this policy. To this end China has abolished the presidential term limit, is enhancing his dictatorship and the one-party rule of the Chinese Communist Party, and is working to build a China-centered network under its “One Belt, One Road” initiative. As one facet of this, Chinese funds from exporting surplus goods in its manufacturing industry were being provided in huge sums for railway and other infrastructure building in Asia.
However, fear is rapidly growing across Asia that infrastructure investment fully dependent on Chinese funding will lead to insolvency. Infrastructure projects in Pakistan and Malaysia have been reduced or cancelled for this reason. In the September election in the Maldives, the pro-Chinese president was voted out due to concern about China, and the new government is attempting to rethink all projects that China has a hand in. There is not sufficient funding in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), founded in 2016 and spearheaded by China, out of lack of confidence in the Bank of China.
China is violating American intellectual property rights

I wrote:
Trump placed additional tariffs on China (25% on imports from China totaling 50 billion dollars on roughly 1,100 items in July and August) to prevent China from violating American intellectual property rights. The U.S. has started full-scale efforts this year to crush China, and I believe we can say this conflict is a new Sino-American cold war, not just a trade war.

 Under the subtitle “We cannot allow North Korea to become a latent nuclear state,” my essay reads:

When the Chinese economic bubble bursts due to the trade war and cold war with the U.S., the impacts will likely stretch to Japan and throughout East Asia. In the future, it’s also possible that North Korea (as a latent nuclear state) will integrate with South Korea to create a nuclear “Korean Federation.” Japan must start taking various measures against this economic crisis and the threat of a broken-down balance of power. First, we must consider amending the constitution to strengthen our self-defense capability.
40th anniversary of the “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan”

 Homare Endo, director of the Tokyo University of Social Welfare’s Center of International Relations, wrote as follows in an online article:

On January 2, Xi gave a speech commemorating the 40th anniversary of the “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan.” He threatened Taiwan, saying military unification is possible if Taiwan does not choose peaceful unification according to the “one country, two systems” concept by its 2020 presidential election. Deng Xiaoping released the “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan” on January 1, 1979, which is also the date of the official normalization of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China was signed one year before. That is why the People’s Republic of China (Mainland China) has said at the United Nations (UN) that the Republic of China (Taiwan, which was previously the representative of China) does not exist. It gained an absolutely advantageous position for sending this message to “compatriots in Taiwan.”
This was enabled by President Richard Nixon, who was aiming for re-election, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, his advance guard. Kissinger set the stage with his “ninja diplomacy” when he visited China in 1971. The U.S. and Kissinger took the lead in creating a new international situation by abandoning Taiwan, making the People’s Republic of China join the UN, and finally expelling the Republic of China from the UN. The “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan” was released based on this state of affairs.
A digital Sino-American cold war

 Business Insider Japan ran an article entitled, “Can Japan be Concerned Only About the U.S. – What is the Basis for Excluding Huawei?” It read:

Right after the Huawei CFO was arrested in Canada (he is currently out on bail), an old friend who is well informed about Chinese diplomacy said, “I’m watching to see if the Japanese government actually excludes Huawei from 5G next March (2019). Terrible things would happen if this inspires retribution from China.” Despite his calm tone of voice, I felt a curious sense of reality about this retaliation.
In this Sino-American trade war, the Trump administration has asked its allies to reject Chinese products, including Huawei. In this way, it has moved into the new dimension of a “digital cold war” that reminds one of the Coordinating Committee for Export to Communist Area (COCOM) during the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union. COCOM imposed embargos on the West sharing military technology and strategic resources with the communist camp and divided the global economy between East and West. When the Cold War ended, the world was supposed to have been united in the economic realm, but I wonder if it will retrogress. In an age when the globe is divided into two American and Chinese blocs centered on digital technology and goods, Japan will be forced to make a choice that determines its future.
The Japanese government plans to incorporate national security risks, including information leakage, into the judging standard for assigning 5G mobile communications system frequencies, and to effectively exclude two major Chinese companies: Huawei and ZTE Corporation. SoftBank and other mobile phone carriers have accepted this without resistance and made the decision not to utilize products from these two companies.
Constitutional reform is impossible as things stand now

 As a group, the media is using a tactic of disregarding the question of constitutional change. In these circumstances, the nationwide local elections will be held in April, and the gubernatorial, prefectural assembly, and ordinance-designated city mayor/assembly elections will take place on April 7. The election for the heads and assemblies of other municipalities will be held on April 21. Afterwards, the House of Councillors election will probably take place on July 21. It is predicted the ruling party will face extremely difficult circumstances in this election after the local ones, and that it will be difficult for National Diet members in favor of constitutional reform to gain two thirds of the seats in the House of Councillors. This would likely make constitutional change an impossible task. The only method for amending the constitution will be to dissolve the House of Representatives, from June 21 to 26, and hold a double election for both houses.
 The opposition party and Komeito members would be most opposed to this dissolution and double election. At the Constitution Research Council and other venues, Komeito and some Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Diet members are finding all sorts of faults with the motion to put it off and render it impossible, even about the proposals of adding to the constitution and clearly specifying the Japan Self-Defense Forces, which they previously advocated for. We should dissolve the House of Representatives, hold a double election for both houses, and ask LDP Diet members if they are in favor of submitting a constitutional change motion. The people who oppose it should not be given official recognition, and they should be cut down like during Junichiro Koizumi’s election on the issue of postal reform. The Komeito should be told that the House of Representatives will not be dissolved if there is unity in both houses and support for the constitutional reform motion.
 After two thirds of the Diet members in both houses approve the constitutional reform motion, a decision should be made in the Diet to submit the motion, and a double election (national referendum and House of Councillors election) should be held on July 21. If this is accomplished, it would be possible to amend the constitution for the first time with a majority in the national referendum, even if two thirds of House of Councillors members are not in favor.
However, it will be exceedingly difficult to gain a majority in this national referendum on constitutional reform. In addition to Diet members who want to change the constitution, prefectural governors, city mayors, municipal assembly members, and many other conservatives who want to prevent Japan from becoming a Chinese autonomous region must join together to carry out a major national movement and work hard to ensure a majority of citizen votes. If not, in the near future Japan will likely end up as a Chinese autonomous region after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe leaves office.

January 10, 2019 (Thursday), 6:00 p.m.