Tokyo Whether by design or inadvertence, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans for reviving Japan’s economy after two decades of stagnation differ sharply from the stimulus and austerity policies pursued by the United States and the European Union to recover from the deep recession of 2008-2009. These differences augur well for Japan’s prospects.
Tokyo John Kerry’s first visit as secretary of state to Asia this week will be rightly dominated by the heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula, where Kim Jong-un’s regime continues to generate headlines around the world with its bluster and brinksmanship.
Enough is enough. That isn’t a bad shorthand description of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s new economic policy. Enough of lost decades, enough of deflation, enough of an over-valued yen, enough of wage stagnation, enough of the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) “timidity.”
The Senkaku Islands dispute is the first Japan-China security crisis in seven decades of peace. This puzzling contretemps between Asia’s two giants unnerves the region, whose waters host half of global trade, and President Barack Obama faces a test. American power anchors the China-Japan balance in a tripod that is the unsung secret of East Asia’s peace and progress.
All of the fuss by the G-7 and the G-20 at their meeting this week about whether Japan should be condemned for attempting to end decades of stagnation by easing monetary policy, with the effect of driving down the yen, makes for good copy.
Just before Christmas there was a lot of public concern about America’s declining birthrate, which closed out 2012 at its lowest point since 1920. But in trying to understand why American fertility is on the wane, it’s important to understand that fertility decline is a global phenomenon. Ninety-seven percent of the world’s population lives in countries with declining fertility rates. And as bad as America has it now, things could be worse. We could be Japan.
Sometimes an uninhabited island chain is just an uninhabited island chain. But that’s never the case in East Asia, where territorial disputes often involve fishing rights, energy supplies, and, perhaps most importantly, the re-litigation of historical grievances.
Though every generation dutifully brings forth its crop of visual artists, some harvests are more blessed and bounteous than others. And while few have been as sparse as those of recent date, we can all take some consolation in the Whitney’s retrospective of Yayoi Kusama. Any age that engendered her cannot be all bad.
Ron Paul’s aversion to monetary expansion in the middle of an economic crisis is a fringe libertarian idea—and also widely held in America’s political mainstream, including by some Fed officials. This wave of thinking seems to foreshadow a worrisome trend: the ongoing Japanization of the West.