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  JAPAN ECHO

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE KANTEI’S LEADERSHIP
Vol. 37, No. 1, February 2010


FROM THE EDITOR (SHIRAISHI Takashi)

CHRONOLOGY (November – December 2009)

QUESTIONS ABOUT THE KANTEI’S LEADERSHIP (TAKENAKA Harukata)

Prospects for a Two-Headed Administration (KAKIZAKI Meiji)

Following the victory by the Democratic Party of Japan in the August 2009 lower house election, Ozawa Ichirô assumed control over the party as secretary general. DPJ President Hatoyama Ichirô, who became prime minister in September, has decided to entrust Diet and party affairs to Ozawa. This may seem like a clean division of responsibility, but it is quite possible that in the period ahead the DPJ under Ozawa’s direction will encroach on the territory of the government headed by Hatoyama. (Sekai, extra issue, December 2009)

Fiscal Policymaking in the Hatoyama Era (ITOH Motoshige)

During the decades of rule by the Liberal Democratic Party, the prime minister did not provide concrete directions for the management of public finances. The new DPJ administration aims to establish political control over fiscal policy, but for the prime minister to exercise leadership in this field, he will need to mobilize the newly created National Policy Unit as a source of advice. (Voice, December 2009)


ELECTION 2009

Who Ended the LDP’s Reign? (TANIGUCHI Masaki, UENOHARA Hideaki, SAKAIYA Shirô)

In the August 2009 lower house election, over 40% of the LDP’s long-term supporters deserted it, even though they knew it was in danger of losing power to the DPJ. Meanwhile, the DPJ seems to be turning into a “catch-all” party capable of drawing votes from a broad range of groups. It remains to be seen, however, if the election outcome was an aberration or represents a lasting realignment of party affiliations. Much will depend on how the DPJ actually governs. (Sekai, December 2009)


SOCIAL SECURITY REFORM (NARIAI Osamu)

Prospects for Pension Reform (NISHIZAWA Kazuhiko)

Pension reform was one of the banners under which the DPJ waged its successful election campaign last year. But the Democrats have yet to flesh out the details of their reform plans. And they have said virtually nothing about the crucial issue of pension finances. Efforts are needed to lighten the burden that future generations will have to bear in order to keep the system going. (Chûô Kôron, December 2009)

Designing an Employment-Based Welfare Policy (MIYAMOTO Tarô)

The DPJ has promised to implement a generous “child allowance” and has proposed other cash benefits as part of its approach to ensuring people’s livelihoods. But the experience of other countries suggests that excessive reliance on cash benefits can cause employment to fall and fiscal deficits to swell. It seems wiser to focus on policies aimed at creating jobs and making it easier and more rewarding for people to work. (Chûô Kôron, December 2009)


MANAGEMENT

My Business Ambition (YANAI Tadashi, interviewed by OZAKI Mariko)

Fast Retailing Co. has been expanding rapidly and earning record profits, particularly with sales of its Uniqlo brand of casual wear. Chairman and President Yanai discusses the company’s success, noting the importance of ambition and growth. Since Japan has a shrinking population, the only option is to head overseas. With Uniqlo, Fast Retailing is aiming to change clothes, change conventions, and change the world. (Voice, December 2009)


ARCHITECTURE

Blurring the Boundaries Between Inside and Outside (ITO Toyo, interviewed by KAWASHIMA Yôko)

Ito, an internationally renowned architect whose dazzlingly original creations have become much-loved landmark buildings, explains how he has attempted to introduce more ambiguity in the relationship between inside and outside. The twenty-first century calls for a new, softer geometry and a more pliable style of architecture. Architecture and nature must be brought closer together in order to make progress in areas like ecology and sustainability. (Voice, November 2009)


VOICES OF JAPAN

The Evolving Face of the Japanese (HARASHIMA Hiroshi, interviewed by KÔNO Michikazu)


WAR RESPONSIBILITY

A-bombs Fall on Japan (Yomiuri Shimbun War Responsibility Reexamination Committee)

Chapter 12 of the book From Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl Harbor: Who Was Responsible? (The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2006). Based on a series of articles in the daily Yomiuri Shimbun, this book examines the responsibility for Japan’s taking the path to war first with China and then with the United States.


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