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Okinawan Identity and the Struggle for Self-DeterminationShimabukuro Jun

Since Onaga Takeshi’s successful campaign for governorship of Okinawa last fall, “Okinawan identity” has emerged as a rallying cry for unified opposition to plans for a replacement facility for US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma inside Okinawa Prefecture. Okinawan political scientist and activist Shimabukuro Jun explores the meaning of Okinawan identity in a historical context, focusing on the postwar experience of “structural discrimination.”
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Weighing Vote Disparity in Japan’s Upper HouseTakenaka Harukata

The House of Councillors has been criticized for being too powerful, undermining the policymaking efforts of the cabinet in a divided government and making Japan’s parliamentary democracy dysfunctional. It has also failed to heed the Supreme Court’s warnings to fundamentally rectify voting-power disparities between electoral districts. As a result, some are now beginning to question the legitimacy of the upper house.
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Clock Ticking Down on Upper House ReformTsuchiya Hideo

The House of Councillors is currently in a state of unconstitutionality, and unless sweeping reforms are enacted quickly, next summer’s election will no doubt be judged to be unconstitutional.
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The Rightful Role of the House of CouncillorsOyama Reiko

The House of Councillors, Japan’s parliamentary upper house, was once seen as a mere rubber-stamping body. But since 1989 it has been a stronghold for whatever parties are out of power, and as such has managed to stifle ruling-party legislation. Is there a way for Japan to overcome this dysfunctional situation?
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A First Step Toward Reform of Japan’s Agricultural Cooperative SystemYamashita Kazuhito

The government has embarked on the first overhaul of Japan’s agricultural cooperative system in around 60 years. Yamashita Kazuhito takes a look at the history of this powerful institution—whose influence stretches beyond farming to the worlds of politics and finance—and ponders its future role.
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Japan and South Korea: Time to Build a New RelationshipKimura Kan

In addition to being the seventieth anniversary of the end of World War II, 2015 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the normalization of ties between Japan and South Korea. The half century since 1965 has brought major changes in international relations, and the old bilateral framework is no longer functioning properly. Korea specialist Kimura Kan offers an overview of the problems and some ideas for mending the relationship.
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Lower House Election Provides Little Drama as LDP Stays in Power

The forty-seventh House of Representatives election on December 14, 2014, saw the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Kōmeitō retain their two-thirds majority in the lower house by combining to capture 326 seats, an unchanged number. The much-expected gains of the LDP failed to materialize as the party lost four seats, slipping from 295 to 291. Coalition partner Kōmeitō managed to…
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Abe Cabinet Rocked by Double Resignation

The administration of Prime Minister Abe Shinzō was hit by the resignations of two high-profile women ministers on October 20. On Monday morning, Obuchi Yūko offered her resignation as minister of economy, trade, and industry in connection with accusations of improper use of funds from her political support groups and campaign donors. That afternoon Matsushima Midori, minister of justice, stepped …
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Abe Shores Up Power with Cabinet ReshuffleKakizaki Meiji

On September 3, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō reshuffled his cabinet and leadership of the Liberal Democratic Party for the first time since assuming office in 2012. Political journalist Kakizaki Meiji considers the motivations behind Abe’s choices and the effects they will have on the balance of the administration and his party.
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A First Reshuffle for Second Abe Cabinet (September 2014)

On September 3, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō announced the results of his first cabinet reshuffle since assuming office for the second time in December 2012. Six senior ministers retained their positions, including Deputy Prime Minister Asō Tarō, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide, and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kishida Fumio. Former Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Ishiba Shigeru took the newly created post of minister in charge of reviving local economies.
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