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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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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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