Monday, October 02, 2006

Beautiful Japan

Beautiful Japan
Originally uploaded by pookie_san99.
Shinzo Abe became Japans new Prime Minister last week having earlier won the post of President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
At 52 years old he is the youngest post war Japanese P.M and also the first to be born after World War 2.
He has urged Japan to become " a beautiful country that is trusted and loved."
He wrote a precampaign book called "To a Beautiful Country".He has spoken of the need to create a society where second chances are allowed and of the need to reduce wealth disparity in Japan.
All in vague terms according to numerous newspaper reports and commentaries I've recently read or heard.
He wants to motivate people to "rechallenge" themselves and to provide "a safety net " for the needy.

He's also been elusive about whether or not his administration will raise the consumption tax or not.One possible reason being an affirmative answer would hurt the LDP in the upcoming Upper House elections in 2007.
Former Finance Minister Tanigaki proposed raising the consumption tax to 10% as a means of cutting public debt and supporting Japans increasingly gray society in the face of a falling birthrate and fewer workers to provide a tax revenue base.
Instead of raising the consumption tax Abe wants to implement "a strategy for economic growth" with the focus on high economic growth and cutbacks in government spending.
As one economics professor commented "He (Abe) is being contradictory in his idea of cutting public expenditure while investing in "rechallenge" projects for workers".

Abe also faces other domestic and foreign challenges.
He has to continue the half completed reforms of the Koizumi government.
He also wants to revise the Constitution in particular the war renouncing Article 9 and to continue to strengthen the US/Japan alliance.
He faces the task of mending relations with Japans Asian neighbors.
China and South Korea have suspended summits in the wake of former PM Koizumis visits to Yasukuni Shrine.Abe who visited Yasukuni in April has yet to announce whether as P.M he would continue to visit the controversial Shrine where Japans war dead are enshrined.

With a hawkish reputation and a strong stance on North Korea it will be interesting to see what position he adopts.
The photo at the top shows a blue tarpaulin "home" built by one of the homeless people who live under an overpass near my apartment building in central Nagoya.

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