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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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Behind Moves to Revise Article 96Hitora Tadashi

The movement to amend Article 96 of Japan’s Constitution, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō’s first priority in a grand scheme of constitutional revision, is attracting more attention as the House of Councillors election scheduled for July 21 approaches. The prospect of amending this article, which sets forth procedures for revising the Constitution itself, is drawing support from some opposition partie…
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The Value of a Vote: Addressing the Disparities in Japan’s Electoral SystemMizushima Asaho

For more than 50 years Japan has seen lawsuits against disparities in the value of voters’ ballots, with sparsely populated districts punching above their weight compared to crowded urban ones. The courts now appear to be moving to address this unconstitutional status. Is change afoot?
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What the TPP Process Means to JapanYoshizaki Tatsuhiko

The Japanese government's decision to take part in talks over a Trans-Pacific Partnership has reignited internal debate over the potential pluses and minuses of a US-led free trade agreement. Economist Yoshizaki Tatsuhiko argues that the discussion will remain fruitless until both sides shift their focus from such hypothetical losses and gains to the fundamental importance of promoting free trade and participating in the rule-making process.
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What Type of Decentralization Best Suits Japan?Sasaki Nobuo

There is a consensus that Japan will need to thoroughly reform its overly centralized system of government if it hopes to reduce its massive deficits. Sasaki Nobuo, a professor at Chūō University and advocate of a new system of regional blocks, describes several paths Japan could take toward decentralization.
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Japan-US Relations: The Need for Commitment and Restraint

Abe Shinzō’s new administration has made a promising start in its dealings with the United States, including an inaugural summit with President Barack Obama that laid the groundwork for Japan’s participation in negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The bilateral relationship faces numerous issues, though, whose outcome remains to be seen. We asked former ambassador to the United States Fujisaki Ichirō to share his thoughts.
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Decentralization: Who Is It For?Takenaka Harukata

Decentralization of power has been on Japan’s agenda for 20 years, but how much real progress has been achieved? We interviewed Katayama Yoshihiro, who won high marks for his performance as governor of Tottori Prefecture (1999–2007) and who promoted decentralization as a member of Kan Naoto’s cabinet (2010–11).
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Abe’s Agenda on Three FrontsKitaoka Shin’ichi

In order to deal with the difficult issues Japan faces domestically and internationally, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō will need to display leadership and promote realistic policies without getting tied up in ideology.
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The Letdown of Abe’s Timid Policy SpeechSugiura Masaaki

“What is this?” I found myself muttering to myself incredulously as I listened to Prime Minister Abe Shinzō deliver his general policy speech to the National Diet on January 28. It was not so much a general policy speech as a declaration of timidity. He used the word kiki (“crisis,” “critical”) a full 14 times, which was fine, but he did not utter so much as a single syllable about the Senkaku Isl…
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