Rocket launch to boost hawks in Japan…

…But that doesn’t necessarily mean the neo-nationalist Japanese Restoration Party cleans up in the December 16, according to this article.


North Korea’s successful rocket launch on Wednesday is likely to swell support for hawks in the Liberal Democratic Party and in smaller parties, in a country already  feeling the heat from a territorial dispute with China.

Currently polls “point to an LDP-led coalition” winning, which would put ex-PM Shinzo Abe back in office.

Abe…has been hawkish since re-taking the LDP’s helm this year.
After months of tensions with Beijing over disputed islands in the East China Sea, he has pledged to boost maritime surveillance and re-write the post-World War II pacifist constitution foisted on Tokyo by its US occupiers, a nod to those calling for a more muscular military.
That stance could be boosted by North Korea’s launch.
Although to be fair, I understand that no matter who is elected, Japan won’t likely announce radical changes in its strategy with China, including over the disputed islands. Having said that, an increasing ratio of hawks to liberals points to an electorate growing restless with the status quo.

A worrying vibe in Japan

Toru Hashimoto. That’s a name we might hear more in coming weeks. He is the mayor of Osaka. In the current election in Japan, he has aligned with author, nationalist and former mayor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara to form the Japan Restoration Party. They are hoping for a sizable showing in Japan’s elections.

Hashimoto (and Ishihara) wants to turn the page on the endless backroom consensus politics endemic in Japan and “restore” the nation’s pride. Hashimoto is anti-nuclear power but pro- military. He wants to reform parts of Japan’s economy and social state. Oh, yeah, he thinks that to jumpstart Japan’s reform, the nation needs a dictator checked by a legislature, elections, the media. “Politics must be by dictatorship within this balance,” he has said.

And yet, in a country that has been adrift in a world of mainly depoliticised consensus, you can see how his politics may have some allure. His critics call his politics Hashism. Ishihara, for his part, has once denied the Rape of Nanking occured. Much more recently he helped esclate the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands dispute with China.

And look at the linkages.

Politicians who wants to restore Japan’s pride, facing a larger Asian nation/antagonist that by a huge coincidence, wants to reassert its top place in the pecking order in Asia. On the Japanese side there is the feeling of impotence after years of post-war US occupation followed by economic stagnation. For the Chinese, not only is there the deeply held belief that the country is finally assuming its rightful place, there is still a living memory for the atrocities committed by the Japanese against the Chinese.

What could possibly go wrong here?

The JRP is not expected to win a majority although it may place second in the vote. How well it fares will say a lot about the current desire for glory in Japan.