So one rightwinger takes over from another in Japan - big deal you might say. Well, maybe and maybe not. Actually just what kind of a difference Abe might mean for the East Asian geopolitical landscape, Japanese domestic political economy and the left/social movements in Korea and Japan is something I’m curious about. Hence I thought that I might try to gather together here over the next few weeks some interesting reading materials on the new Japanese PM and what he stands for.
1. Basic materials
First something entirely trivial: Abe Shinzo’s homepage which attracted attention at Digg for its use of what seems to be Unix command line gobbledigook on the front page (see above), not to mention the fact that Japan’s youngest prime-minister-in-waiting for god knows how long sits smiling behind the ultimate token of youthful hipsterism, a shiny Mac Powerbook. Actually, there is also a link there to his English profile, although the Wikipedia page on him is probably considerably more useful in this respect.
2. Japan’s shift to the right
An excellent piece from the dependable Hisane Masaki in the Asia Times looking at Abe Shinzo himself, the general shift to the right in Japan, and focusing particularly on Abe’s declared ambition of revising Japan’s ‘Peace Constitution’ so that the Japanese army can take a more proactive role in overseas operations (among other things). In a similar vein is this article from Julian Ryall for Al Jazeera. One thing that seems to come out in both of these articles is that Abe is considerably to the right of Koizumi and perhaps also less of a pragmatist. I suppose there is a chance that this will also make him less of a successful politician.
3. The economic and geopolitical background
Another in a line of great articles on Asian politics in New Left Review is this one from Taggart Murphy on ‘East Asia’s Dollars‘ and once again dear readers it’s a freebie so go ahead and read it. It focuses particularly on Japan’s role in supporting the US economy with its dollars and looks at the reasons why it continues to be so tied to the US.
4. The view from Korea
A worthwhile piece originally from the Hankyoreh in which Lee Jong-won puts Abe into the “ideological and military right” as opposed to the economic right or the realist right.
5. What will Abe do?
Right on cue Hisane Masaki provides an updated version of the analysis piece linked above on Abe and the possible direction he will take now he is in power. Clearly, when you look at this first paragraph summary, even a child could see that some of his stated goals are in a full 180 degree contradiction with one another:
Japan’s new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has set forth an imposing agenda, which includes repairing strained relations with China and South Korea, revising parts of the constitution, reforming education, winning for his country a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, and closing the income gap while maintaining 3% economic growth.