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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.

Japan and South Korea: Time for a RebootHosoya Yuichi

On the night of September 5, 2013, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō and President Park Geun-hye of South Korea chatted briefly just before an official dinner held to welcome delegates to the Group of Twenty summit in St. Petersburg. Since taking office in February, President Park had previously avoided holding formal talks with Abe, who has been back in office since December 2012. The Korean position is …

Behind the New Abe Diplomacy: An Interview with Cabinet Advisor Yachi Shōtarō (Part One)

Abe Shinzō’s whirlwind diplomacy has covered most of Southeast Asia and Oceania—not to mention the United States—in the past seven months. But can it repair badly frayed ties between Japan and its closest neighbors? In an exclusive interview, veteran foreign affairs official and government insider Yachi Shōtarō offers his candid views on the essence and efficacy of Abe’s “bird’s eye” approach to foreign policy.

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.

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…

The History Issue Clouding Japan’s Relations with Its NeighborsShiraishi Takashi

Conflicting ideas about history are becoming an increasingly intractable problem between Japan and its neighbors. According to reports in the South Korean media, at her summit meeting with US President Barack Obama on May 6, President Park Geun-hye declared that Japan must have a correct perception of history for the sake of peace in Northeast Asia. And in her address to a joint session of th…

Abe’s Visit to Southeast Asia and Japan’s Five New Diplomatic PrinciplesShiraishi Takashi

From January 16 to 18, Prime Minister Abe Shinzō visited Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia; this visit to Southeast Asia was his first international trip since taking office on December 26. On the first day of his trip, Abe flew to Vietnam, where he met with Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in Hanoi. The two leaders agreed to promote bilateral cooperation through trade and investment in areas incl…

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