社説:2013年を展望する 骨太の互恵精神育てよ

January 01, 2013(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: Japan's 2013 to be shaped by power of its economy, power of peace
社説:2013年を展望する 骨太の互恵精神育てよ

2013 will be a year of new approaches for Japan, and we believe the nation's new ways of being will come in two facets.

The first: Japan's latent economic power. Economic policy will grapple with ways to enlarge the economic pie, and then decide how that pie will be sliced.

The previous Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) administration put the most emphasis on the latter half of that equation, distributing generous support to young people and those in agriculture in the form of child allowances, free high school tuition, and farming household subsidies.

The newly minted Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)-led administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the other hand, is intensely focused on the size of the pie, championing sweeping monetary easing and public investment under the name of breaking away from deflation.


Of course, just about everyone ought to be happier if there's more pie to go around, and here at the outset we have no intention of speaking ill of the idea.

However, we must point out that it's not as if preceding administrations have done nothing towards that goal in the 20 plus years since the economic bubble burst.
They pushed zero interest rates, went ahead with major monetary easing measures of their own, and poured money into mostly public works projects as emergency economic measures on numerous occasions.

In the end, quite similar strategies were piled one atop the other, amassing a quadrillion yen national debt in the process.

Behind Japan's lack of growth are its low birthrate and aging population, the rise of emerging economies, and environmental limitations on our supply and use of energy and resources. These are all structural causes, and we want to see the Abe administration tackle them head-on.

Japan's population is greying at the fastest rate in the world, and already one in four Japanese is 65 or older. This fact makes a well-considered and solid plan to deal with the aging society especially important.

Furthermore, to create an environment where young people are confident they have the financial wherewithal to have and raise children of their own, we believe it's time that a part of our limited economic pie -- employment and income -- be shifted to those young people from the older, wealthier segment of society.

What we'd like people to bear in mind here is the importance of mutual concessions and reciprocity.

We need to think that, in yielding to another, we ourselves are blessed and enriched. We also need to make this a mutual process, repeated many times.

To make use of Japan's young people to the full extent of their abilities will in turn revitalize all of society, the benefits of which will flow back to the elderly.

Even if the economic pie does not grow, can we not create such a positive redistribution cycle?

To that end, we'd like to see some of the DPJ's policies that never got off the ground pushed forward by the new administration.

As Japan has held to its postwar focus on light armament and economy-first policy, its economy has managed to survive the calamities of the currency crisis, the oil shock and the end of the bubble economy.

Now is the time to use the economic potential so evident in this resilience to shift gears, to deal with the mature economy that Japan enjoys.

The spirit of reciprocity must not only be applied to intergenerational relations, but to foreign relations as well.

The second facet of Japan's new way of life in 2013 lies here, in the power of peace bound up in a national government that has never pursued war.

The greatest issue facing Japanese diplomacy is how to deal with the rising power of China.

There is talk in international circles that Chinese incursions into Japanese territorial waters and airspace over the Senkaku Islands dispute could lead to an armed clash.

As a country that hasn't fired a shot in anger in some 67 years, all Japanese must now reconfirm the peace power of our nation and discuss how we can avoid Japan-China relations from worsening.

Japanese postwar pacifism is built on two main premises: a vow grounded in reflection on World War II to never again launch a war of aggression, and on the deterrent embodied in the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty.

Japan strives to solve all its international disputes through dialogue.

Of course for the sake of deterring potential enemies, Japan must prepare itself militarily.

For this reason, we must reconfirm the meaning and the function of the security treaty.

On top of this, we believe it important to study the history of the 1920s.


The Taisho period (1912-1926) saw the formation of two major political parties, and the national discourse rang with the voices of democracy.

In the end, however, party politics couldn't protect the peace.

The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 combined with a global financial crisis sent the Japanese economy into turmoil. Calls for imperial expansion on the Asian continent intensified, and bellicose, xenophobic hardliners drowned out the good sense of those calling for international cooperation and compromise. Militarism took over, and in the name of supporting Imperial rule, the government led our nation into reckless war.

What our very own history teaches us is that when two countries cannot compromise over a territorial or sovereignty dispute, useless escalation follows.

We believe Japan must discard cheap anti-foreign sentiment and seek big-picture international cooperation.

Japan is doing its best now to deal with the Senkaku dispute with China through dialogue based on legal principles. China, meanwhile, which had it examined the history of the Senkaku dispute ought to have shelved its claims to the islands, is obviously trying to change the present reality with a show of sheer power.

Japan must explain carefully and persistently what's going on to the world and to Asian nations in particular, and thereby make friends and allies in its confrontation with China. We should not end up alone in this.

With China itself, we must constantly reassert the merits of the strategic partnership of mutual benefit.

First of all, Japan must tolerate the tension involved in dispensing with any hardline talk and sticking to the status quo.

A chance for compromise will emerge from therein.

If, for example, China stopped sending government ships to the waters around the Senkakus; if Japan admitted that the islands dispute was in fact a diplomatic issue, then the parties could finally sit at a table and talk about it.

We'd like to see leaders from both China and Japan show resourcefulness and courage.

Distributing the economic pie and the continuation of peace in East Asia -- for these things we call for a spirit of reciprocity that will make this era one of conciliation.

If we look back on all the steps we've taken since the end of World War II, we have built up all the power we need to respond to the demands of the postwar era.

While it is undoubtedly the politicians who will have to work the hardest to put that power to use, we would like all Japanese citizens to remember once more that their jobs are given to them by us.

毎日新聞 2013年01月01日 02時30分

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