A free and open Indo-Pacific: Regional and global implications
One of the techniques devised for managing China’s ascent and its destabilizing impact is the concept of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” This idea, embraced by the governments of Japan, India and the United States, includes military, economic, political, legal and diplomatic dimensions. Some argue it is a smoke screen to mask U.S. disengagement, while others maintain it is a Japanese-inspired effort to enlist American help.
Japan’s growing nuclear dilemma
The security environment in East Asia is becoming increasingly unstable, with China rising, North Korea threatening nuclear war and the U.S. seemingly less willing to support allies. Japan is in a difficult predicament, with a constitution curtailing its military abilities and a public strongly against nuclear weapons. But the government wants to abolish those limits, and popular opinion might change once the nuclear arms race in East Asia accelerates.
Geopolitics drives Japan’s economy
Japanese companies are making a big push overseas. The phenomenon is a result of a shrinking population, but also geopolitical pressure from China. To counter Beijing’s influence, Japan is using its economic heft to expand its reach and protect its interests. Its ties with countries like India and Australia will continue to grow, and it will step into the vacuums left by a withdrawing United States and an overstretched China.
GIS Dossier: Shinzo Abe’s Japan
Shinzo Abe is not popular, but this consummate political insider has become just the second prime minister in Japan’s history to win three general elections. He managed this feat by skillfully juggling factions in the dominant Liberal Democratic Party, stirring life into Japan’s stagnant economy, and pledging vigorous leadership in the face of a nuclear-armed Korea. Can Mr. Abe turn around a country widely seen to be in irreversible decline?
Can Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delay his political twilight?
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has had plenty of success, already having become the country's second-longest serving head of government. But the good times are over – his political rivals smell weakness and could use upcoming election campaigns to oust him. Perhaps surprisingly, his biggest threat does not come from the opposition, but from within his own party.
Shinzo Abe’s underappreciated recovery
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears to have made good on his promise to pull Japan out of deflation and slow growth. A large part of the credit goes to the central bank, which stepped in with aggressive bond-buying. But equally crucial has been the role of middle-aged women, who are reentering the job market in droves.
Japan’s defense: easing the constitutional corset
As China emerges as East Asia’s dominant power and the unpredictable North Korean regime acquires offensive nuclear capability, nearby Japan is taking further steps to relax its constitutional ban on maintaining armed forces. Amending the constitution may not yet be in the cards, but beefing up the country’s arms industry has already started.
Unconventional scenarios for Japan’s demographic future
Recent demographic projections for Japan paint a dark future, with the loss of some 30 percent of the population within the next 50 years. The situation is so grim that unconventional scenarios might offer the only solution.
Return of shale? Scenarios for the Trump administration
The first shipments of what promises to be a flood of shale gas from the United States have reached Asia. These exports could dramatically increase U.S. political leverage in the region. Most importantly, they have the potential to forge new bonds with China in a time of stress and help check Russian expansion.
Japan is trying another fiscal stimulus to make Abenomics work. The central bank appears to have given up, admitting in its latest quarterly report that monetary measures will not suffice to get inflation back to the 2 percent target. But the real culprit may be institutional inertia, which has kept the government from following through on promises of structural reform.