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Abe’s Moves Toward Collective Self-Defense

On July 1, 2014, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s cabinet adopted a resolution to reinterpret the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense. What does this reinterpretation entail, and what are the security ramifications?
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Reading Between the Lines of Obama’s Asia Tour

US President Obama’s four-country tour of Asia was not all smooth sailing. No final agreement was reached with Japan on the TPP free trade talks, and in South Korea all eyes were turned to its unprecedented maritime disaster. Still, the United States made steady progress in the objective of solidifying its position in Asia, including the US military’s return to the Philippines for the first time in 22 years.
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What Japan’s Farmers Really Need Is FreedomAsakawa Yoshihiro

While welcoming Prime Minister Abe’s decision for Japan to participate in the TPP free trade talks, agricultural journalist Asakawa Yoshihiro takes issue with the Abe administration’s farming policy, calling for bold moves to free Japan’s farmers and food producers.
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The Politics of the Tax Hike and AbenomicsTakenaka Harukata

On October 1, the cabinet of Prime Minister Abe Shinzō decided that the government would raise the consumption tax rate from 5% to 8% as scheduled next April. Below I provide a political interpretation of why it reached this decision. In recent months, Prime Minister Abe repeatedly acknowledged that he would carefully make the final judgment about the hike while taking into account its impact o…
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Japan in Pursuit of Westminster DemocracyTakenaka Harukata

Since the 1990s Japan has undertaken a raft of political reforms designed to foster more efficient and effective government. Takenaka Harukata assesses the outcome of these institutional changes, the lingering obstacles to majoritarian democracy in Japan, and the implications for policymaking under the second Abe cabinet.
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Why Do Japan and Italy Change Prime Ministers So Often?Ikeya Tomoaki

In the 1990s both Italy and Japan introduced single-seat constituencies to their electoral systems in an attempt to encourage two-party politics. Since then both have had frequent changes of prime minister. Political scientist Ikeya Tomoaki examines the similarities and differences in the workings of the two countries’ political systems.
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Abe’s Mandate; China’s Face-off with ASEANShiraishi Takashi

The election on July 21 for the House of Councillors resulted in a major victory for the Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, the New Kōmeitō. The two ruling parties together won 76 of the 121 contested seats, giving them a solid majority in the upper house (they already hold more than two-thirds of the seats in the House of Representatives).(*1) The LDP won in 29 of the 31 single…
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The Role of the Kantei in Making PolicyMakihara Izuru

The Prime Minister’s Official Residence, known as the Kantei, can be thought of as Japan’s answer to the White House: it serves as both home and headquarters to the nation’s chief executive, and its name is a metonym for that top government office. But until relatively recently, a powerful bureaucracy and a tradition of decentralized decision making, added to the inherent constraints of Japan’s parliamentary system, had reduced the Kantei to little more than an onlooker in the actual policymaking process. Makihara Izuru traces the development of “Kantei leadership,” from the dawn of the LDP’s hegemony in 1955 to the present.
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When Asō Tarō Speaks, People ListenPeter Durfee

Asō Tarō, deputy prime minister and minister of finance, has become known for his gaffes as well as for his fashion sense.The latest came in a speech he delivered in Tokyo on July 29, which seems likely to attract global attention for its references not just to Yasukuni Shrine, but to Adolf Hitler as well.  The Tokyo Shimbun has the full text of his comments as follows: 日本が今置かれている国際情勢は、憲法ができたこ…
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Tokyo Election; Xi-Obama Meeting; G8 SummitShiraishi Takashi

In the June 23 election for the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, all 59 of the Liberal Democratic Party’s candidates won. This is the biggest number of seats the LDP has taken in the past 10 elections for the 127-member chamber, topping the 56 it won in 1977 and 1985. The New Kōmeitō, the LDP’s partner in the ruling coalition at the national level, came in second; it fielded 23 candidates, and as wi…
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