Looking at the past ten years, the international situation has changed and the world structure has undergone tremendous changes. At this turning point, Japan, as the third largest economy, has not only changed with the times, but also faces challenges.
In summary, there have been three major changes in Japan in this decade.
The first is political. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe broke a 106-year record and became the longest-serving Prime Minister since the constitutional administration of Japan (a total of 2,887 days, about eight years). You should know that during the 73 years after World War II, the Japanese Prime Minister changed like a lantern, with an average term of one year and seven months. The most outrageous was the change of seven prime ministers in the six years from 2006 to 2012. Abe’s term of office obviously broke the historical law of Japanese politics. In addition, during his eight-year tenure, Abe has also vigorously pushed forward the constitutional amendment motion, and continued to make efforts for Japan to become a “normal country.”
Followed by changes in diplomacy. After World War II, Japan wanted to use the “eggwing” of the United States to enhance its international status. Therefore, it has been closely following the United States in diplomacy and is very prepared for China and Russia. However, with the change of the international situation, the monopoly of the United States has begun to fade, and Japan has also adjusted its diplomacy. Since 2015, Abe has been working to push China-Japan relations back on track, and has repeatedly stated that he will visit China. The success of Abe’s visit to China in October 2018 has also transformed Sino-Japanese relations. In addition, Japan has been actively drawing closer relations with Russia in recent years, and it also started negotiations with Russia on the “Peace Agreement” in November 2018.
Finally, the economy. After Abe took office in December 2012, he proposed a famous Abenomics, which Abe described as the “three arrows.” In Abe’s “Three Arrows”, the first arrow is monetary policy, achieving the 2% inflation target, unlimited quantitative easing, the depreciation of the Japanese yen, and revision of the Japanese Banking Law; the second arrow is a flexible fiscal policy , Increase public investment, issue construction treasury bonds for Japanese banks to buy and hold for a long time; the third branch is a growth strategy that attracts private investment, also known as structural reform.
These “three arrows” can be said to be Abe’s biggest sign in power over the past few years, and also a “killer” to help him re-election so far, to a certain extent help Japan to get rid of deflation and restore economic prosperity. After the first two arrows were fired, the Bank of Japan adopted an extremely accommodative monetary policy to devalue the yen, the stock market maintained a high point, and the export performance of the company also grew. The annual profit of the company was about 84 trillion yen, a record high. Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP) has also gradually increased, and the employment rate has increased for six consecutive years.
It can be seen from the above that during Abe’s eight-year term, Japan has indeed made certain changes in politics, economy and diplomacy, and has sought certain opportunities for Japan in the context of the great changes in the international landscape. But it is worth noting that Abe still faces two major dilemmas on the road to reform.
One is that it is difficult to amend the constitution. After Abe became prime minister, the Liberal Democratic Party initiated a constitutional amendment proposal and proposed amendments to the current constitution to promote Japan as a normalized sovereign state. However, the content of the constitutional amendment is controversial, which has led to differences between Japanese political circles and the people.
According to the relevant procedures of Japan ’s constitutional amendment, initiating a constitutional amendment motion requires the support of more than two-thirds of the members of the House and Senate. Prior to the 2012 election in the Japanese House of Representatives, the proportion of members of the House of Representatives supporting the constitutional amendment was as high as 89%. The conditions for amending the constitution should have been basically mature, but after the 25th Senate election of the Japanese parliament, the constitutional amendment forces did not obtain a majority of more than two-thirds of the Senate. This reversal indicates that the Japanese constitutional amendment forces want to rely on quantitative advantages to force the amendment The possibility of a constitution disappears, and Abe’s “implementation of a new constitution in 2020” and the goal of making Japan a normal country will probably be difficult to achieve.
The second is that the third of the “three arrows” policy has been delayed. As mentioned above, the first two arrows in the “three arrows” have indeed had a certain effect on Japan’s economic recovery, but such effects are not durable and comprehensive. Abe’s previously set price growth rate target of 2% in order to get rid of deflation, this goal is far from being achieved. According to estimates from the Bank of Japan, even in 2019, it will only reach 1.5%. The small amount of money in circulation does not change, which also means that it is difficult for Abe to implement the third arrow plan.
In order to open up the dilemma of the third arrow, and also for the LDP’s 2016 Senate election, Abe proposed a new “three arrows” plan in 2016. Its contents are child care support that fosters hope for a strong economy, dream building, and social security that is at ease. It is worth mentioning that in order to gain the support of industry groups in the election campaign, the LDP also “eliminated” the four words “growth strategy” from the three arrows. It can be said that the third arrow seems to have been left behind by the LDP and Abe.
Japan is the world’s third largest economy and a world economic power. Its changes will directly affect the future international situation and is of great significance. In the context of changes in the international landscape, the rise of major emerging economies is a challenge for Japan to secure its third place in the world. Although Abe tried to revive the Japanese economy through political, economic and diplomatic changes, the emerging economies The rapid pace of growth is in sharp contrast to the slow progress of various reforms in Japan. If Abe wants Japan to secure its third place under today’s competition and make Japan a pole in the international landscape, the plight of constitutional amendments and the third arrow are obstacles that need to be overcome in the future. So, whether Abe will be able to turn the tide and successfully amend the constitution, and successfully shoot the third arrow, will see in his remaining two years in office.