Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Managing decline? Japan under Yasuo Fukuda

With the demise of the hapless Abe, Japan will now return to power a man who at first glance appears to be a classic old guard politician. Based on his public comments his primary concern (in addition to cleaning up the various messes created by Abe) are foreign policy - especially in terms of improving relations with other Asian nations even at the expense of ties with the US. In terms of economic policy, he has paid lip service to the Koizumi reforms but one has to be skeptical as to whether this is really a priority. Accomplishing any sort of serious reform momentum will require immense time, focus, and political capital - because the old guard LDP will always fight it tooth and nail - and this really does not seem to be what Fukuda-san is all about. All in all, it is difficult not to feel somewhat hopeless about the long term prospects for Japan.

The following are interesting commentaries about Japan under Abe and Fukuda:

Op-ed in NY Times by JOICHI ITO: In Japan, Stagnation Wins Again

Two entries from Observing Japan: Fukuda the Conciliator, and It's all about Koizumi

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