Governing, say Mr Abe’s close advisers, is not the same as campaigning. But as the prime minister’s popularity soared this spring he sparked anger in South Korea and in China by appearing to question the 1995 Murayama apology (his government quickly backtracked). Already, says Jakob Edberg, of GR Japan, a political consultancy in Tokyo, there are signs that after six months of unity and intense discipline ahead of the election, different voices within the LDP are now competing to control the policy agenda. There are calls for quick “attack” on both the economic reform front, and also on constitutional revision, he notes. A key signal will be whether or not Mr Abe chooses to visit the Yasukuni shrine on August 15th. Such a visit would send a chilling message to Japan’s neighbours in the region, and also to the more left-leaning voters Mr Abe represents.

安倍の側近が言うには政権運営は選挙運動とは同じではない。しかし、首相の人気がこの春、上昇しているので、彼は1995年の村山の謝罪(彼の政府がすぐに撤回した。)に疑問を呈することによって韓国や中国での怒りに拍車をかけた。既に、東京の政治コンサルタント会社のGR JapanのJakob Edbergが言っているように、選挙の前の調和と強い規律の6ヶ月が経って、自民党内部で異なった意見が政策課題を統制する上で、張り合っている。経済改革の前面とまた憲法改訂の双方に鋭い「攻撃」の要求があると彼は言う。主要なメッセージは安倍氏が8月15日に靖国神社に参拝することを選択するかどうかだろう。そうした参拝はこの地域の日本の近隣の諸国に冷えきったメッセージを送るだろう。そしてまた安倍氏を選んでいるより左翼系の投票者達に対しても。

There are other compelling reasons to concentrate on Abenomics instead. With the first two arrows of the programme already fired, foreign investors are watching closely to see if the third will reach its target. If Mr Abe slackens the pace on economic reform to concentrate on the constitution, says someone close to him, there could be a run on the equity and bond markets. The government must soon make a difficult decision on whether or not to raise a crucial tax on consumption in April 2014. To offset the tax’s dampening effects, strong structural reforms aimed at boosting growth will be essential.


 Mr Abe now looks to be in a stronger position than any Japanese leader has been since Junichiro Koizumi, the prime minister from 2001 to 2006. He is not expected to face a general election until 2016. And yet his support could evaporate quickly. Overall turnout on July 21st was low, which suggests the party may have thinner support than its winnings would seem to indicate. Just 53% of those eligible to vote went to the polls: a 20-year low, according to Koichi Nakano of Sophia University. Only about one in six Japanese actively backed the LDP. 


Having swung wildly away from the LDP in 2009, in favour of the DPJ, and then back again in 2012, the voters are as volatile as ever. For the time being, the DPJ is on the ropes; it won a miserable 17 seats and now faces pressure to split or reshape itself radically. But voters could easily swing away from the LDP again in 2016, to whatever opposition grouping has formed in the meantime. These results have delivered a resounding cheer for Abenomics, but there is everything still to prove. 




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Now the LDP has a much freer rein. The election result also shows that some key opponents of the party’s economic-reform agenda, such as farmers, were in the event unable to punish it for adopting policies they dislike. Japan Agriculture (JA), the country’s most powerful political lobby group, which usually backs the LDP, regarded itself as having been betrayed by Mr Abe’s decision in March to join talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a regional free-trade agreement which—JA reckons—will harm its members’ livelihoods. In a key battle in rural Yamagata, where JA was backing an independent politician, Yasue Funayama, against the LDP’s less-experienced candidate, Mizuho Onuma, who had been obliged to back joining talks on TPP, Ms Onuma won. This is a good omen for the coming struggle: to persuade the LDP’s vested interests to accept radical third-arrow reforms.

現在、自民党は更に自由な統制力を持っている。選挙結果はまた、農家のような党の経済改革課題に対する幾つかの主要な反対する人達は結局、彼等が好まない政策を採用することに対して、懲らしめることはできなかったことを示している。農協(JA)はこの国の最も力を持った政治のロビー団体で、いつもは自民党を支援していて、環太平洋戦略的経済連携協定(TPP)への話し合いに参加するために3月に安倍氏の意思決定によって裏切られたと考えている。この協定は地域の自由貿易の協定で、それはー 農協が見なしているが、ー 会員の生活に害を与えるだろう。田舎の山形の激戦区で、そこでは農協が無所属の政治家 Yasue Funayamaを支持していたが、TPPの話し合いに参加することに戻る義務があるとしている自民党の経験の少ない候補者Mizuho Onumaに対抗した。Onumajy女史が勝った。このことは来るべき闘争の良い前兆だ。:徹底的な3番目の矢の改革を認めるための自民党の強い関心を説得するため。

Approaching the election, there were rumours that an increasingly confident Mr Abe had started to aim for an LDP majority all to itself. That would mean no longer needing to rely on New Komeito’s support. It did not achieve that. However, a good performance by two other, smaller parties, the Japan Restoration Party (JRP) led by the mayor of Osaka, and Your Party, an up-and-coming urban-oriented party, means that Mr Abe’s most closely held personal aim, of changing the post-war constitution laid down by America in 1946, may come into reach. Pursuing it could become a distraction from the third arrow of Abenomics.


The JRP and Your Party broadly favour constitutional revision. New Komeito, on the other hand, which draws its support from Japan’s largest lay-Buddhist organisation, Soka Gakkai, cleaves to the country’s pacifist creed as laid down by the constitution’s Article Nine. If the LDP can persuade New Komeito to soften its stance, perhaps as a way to secure key government posts, the pro-revisionists would gain the two-thirds majority they need in the upper house to start the process. In his post-election comments, Mr Abe made clear that he intends to explore the possibility of constitutional revision sooner rather than later. That comes as something of a surprise; just before the election, revising the constitution seemed to have been put on the back burner.


Post-election, there should at last be an answer to the question of who Mr Abe really is. His opponents reckon that his new focus on economics may have been a mere strategy to secure a big upper-house win. With that achieved, goes the theory, constitutional revision will now become Mr Abe’s chief interest, along with changing Japan’s official view of its wartime record. Campaigning to lead the LDP last autumn, Mr Abe lived up to his earlier reputation as a right-wing historical revisionist. On more than one occasion he hinted to a conservative newspaper that an Abe government could revise earlier statements which have expressed remorse for Japan’s wartime record. He has also said he regrets that during his first term as prime minister he did not pay his respects at the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo, where the spirits of convicted war criminals are revered among the nation’s war dead, on August 15th, the anniversary of Japan’s defeat in the second world war.




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Japan's upper-house election
Back on top
Jul 22nd 2013, 8:20 by T.B. | TOKYO


“JAPAN is back”, announced Shinzo Abe, the country’s prime minister, on his February visit to Washington, DC. By July 21st it seemed that Mr Abe might have been speaking for himself. He won an election for the upper house of the Diet, and in so doing pulled off one of the most remarkable political comebacks of modern times. He had resigned as prime minister in 2007, politically humiliated and brought low by a chronic illness. Even after he had returned in December 2012 to hand victory to his party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), voters had little fondness for his government. But Mr Abe’s strong leadership since then, most notably his “Abenomics” plan to revive the economy, by now has won over the country.


The ruling coalition of the LDP and New Komeito, a Buddhist-supported party, needed 63 seats to win control of the upper chamber of parliament, which it had lost to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and other parties six years ago. Every three years half of the upper chamber’s 242 seats come up for grabs. This time the LDP and its partner surpassed themselves, together winning 76 seats, to add to the 59 that they bagged in 2010. That gives them a total of 135 seats for the next three years; not just a majority but a stable majority. Mr Abe’s government will enjoy a dominant position over the legislative process in both houses, right down to appointing the chairmen of lawmaking committees.


Mr Abe now has a still larger opportunity to implement Abenomics, his three-part plan of monetary loosening, fiscal stimulus and pro-growth reforms. Among the three “arrows”, as Mr Abe has dubbed them, the third is the most important and the most controversial. The prospect of supply-side structural reforms, badly needed, for instance, to loosen the inflexible labour market, has boosted outside investors’ hopes for Japan and sent its stockmarket soaring. But with the Diet in a “twisted” state, wherein opposition parties in the upper chamber were able to delay or even block legislation passed by the lower house (in which the LDP and New Komeito already had a two-thirds majority), passing third-arrow legislation had looked difficult.




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Six Chinese Megaprojects Across the Globe
The Middle Kingdom has been extending its reach far into Africa, Latin America and Europe with a variety of contentious industrial and infrastructure schemes Sino-Imperialism Through Investment and Infrastructure
By Jennifer Cheng July 16, 2013


Gabon’s Belinga iron ore

Chinese President Hu Jintao and Gabon's President Ali Bongo met in Shanghai in 2010 partly to discuss the exploitation of the iron deposit of Belinga, Gabon.

中国の主席胡錦濤とガボンの大統領Ali Bongoがガボンのベリンガの鉄の鉱床の開発を討議するなどで、2010年に上海で会っている。

China’s ambitious $40 billion plan to construct a rival to the Panama Canal in Nicaragua has captured the world’s attention, but the Middle Kingdom is no stranger to ambitious megaprojects in far-flung corners of the globe. New Chinese President Xi Jinping has long pushed Chinese companies to invest overseas to gain access to precious natural resources such as coal or mineral ore. And while China’s state-owned enterprises characteristically focus on extractive industries in impoverished countries, infrastructure projects — such as highways or power plants — are often thrown in as part of the deal. 

ニカラグアでパナマ運河に対する対抗手段を建設する為の中国の野心的な400億ドルの計画は世界の注目を集めて来ているが、世界のあちこちで野心的なメガプロジェクトを経験していない訳ではない。新しい中国の主席習近平は石炭や鉱石のような貴重な天然資源を入手する為に中国の企業に海外に投資をするよう長い間推進して来た。そして中国の国有企業が特徴的に貧しい諸国の中の採掘産業に焦点をあてていて、基盤産業プロジェクトがー 高速道路もしくは電力発電所のようなー しばしば取引の一部として持ち込まれている。

Beijing chooses to invest in many semi-pariah states of which Western democracies remain wary — such as Sudan, Belarus or Cambodia. These marginalized nations are happy to receive China’s grants and low-interest loans as securing similar funds from Western powers normally entails tiresome assurances on human rights and transparency — topics Beijing is only too happy to disregard.

北京は西側の民主主義諸国が慎重になっている多くの半分世界からのけ者扱いになっている諸国への投資を選んでいる。ー スーダン、ベラルーシ、カンボジアのような。こうしたのけ者にされて来た諸国は人権や政治の透明性へのうんざりするような保証が通常伴う西側の権力から似たような資金を確保しているので、中国の助成金や低金利ローンを受けることはうれしい。ー 北京がこのうえなく喜んで無視する課題だ。



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That would not be surprising, for political change is a long game. Hindsight tends to smooth over the messy bits of history. The transition from communism, for instance, looks easy in retrospect. Yet three years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe was overrun by criminal mafias; extremist politicians were prominent in Poland, Slovakia and the Baltics; the Balkans were about to degenerate into war and there was fighting in Georgia. Even now, most people in the old Soviet bloc live under repressive regimes—yet few want to go back.

そのことに驚くことはないだろう。なぜなら政変は長丁場だ。後知恵は歴史の面倒なことに対してうまく繕う傾向にある。例えば、共産主義からの移行は今にして思えば、容易に見える。けれども、ベルリンの壁の崩壊の後の3年間、ヨーロッパは犯罪のマフィアによって蹂躙されていた。;過激派の政治家がポーランド、スロバキア、そしてバルチック諸国で目立った。;バルカン諸国は戦争へと悪化しようとしていた。そしてグルジアでは戦いがあった。現在でも旧ソビエトブロックの多くの人々は圧政の政権下で生活している。ー けれども戻りたい人は殆どいない。

Don’t hold back the tide
The Arab spring was always better described as an awakening: the real revolution is not so much in the street as in the mind. The internet, social media, satellite television and the thirst for education—among Arab women as much as men—cannot co-exist with the deadening dictatorships of old. Egyptians, among others, are learning that democracy is neither just a question of elections nor the ability to bring millions of protesters onto the street. Getting there was always bound to be messy, even bloody. The journey may take decades. But it is still welcome.

アラブの春はいつも覚醒として更に好ましく述べられてきた。:本当の革命は心の中で思っているほど街頭ではそれほどではない。インターネット、ソーシャルメディア、衛星テレビ、教育熱はー 男同様にアラブの女の間でー 昔の弱体化する独裁国家とは共存することは出来ない。エジプト人はとりわけ民主主義はただ選挙の問題ではないし、街頭での数百万人の抗議行動をする能力でもないことを学んでいる。民主主義を得ることはいつも面倒だし、血なまぐさかったりする運命にあった。その旅路は十数年かかるかもしれない。しかしそれは今もなお歓迎されている。

Jul 13th 2013の別のエコノミストの記事から。

緑色が2012年の一人当たりのGDP 購買力平価で千ドル単位




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Even now the oil-rich monarchies are trying to buy peace; but as an educated and disenfranchised youth sniffs freedom, the old way of doing things looks ever more impossible, unless, as in Syria, the ruler is prepared to shed vast amounts of blood to stay in charge. Some of the more go-ahead Arab monarchies, for example in Morocco, Jordan and Kuwait, are groping towards constitutional systems that give their subjects a bigger say.


Fine, some will reply, but Arab democracy merely leads to rule by the Islamists, who are no more capable of reform than the strongmen, and thanks to the intolerance of political Islam, deeply undemocratic. Muhammad Morsi, the Muslim Brother evicted earlier this month by the generals at the apparent behest of many millions of Egyptians in the street, was democratically elected, yet did his best to flout the norms of democracy during his short stint as president. Many secular Arabs and their friends in the West now argue that because Islamists tend to regard their rule as God-given, they will never accept that a proper democracy must include checks, including independent courts, a free press, devolved powers and a pluralistic constitution to protect minorities.


This too, though, is wrong. Outside the Arab world, Islamists—in Malaysia and Indonesia, say—have shown that they can learn the habit of democracy. In Turkey too, the protests against the autocratic but elected prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have more in common with Brazil than the Arab spring. Turkey, for all its faults, is more democratic today than it was when the army lurked in the background.

しかしながら、このこともまた間違っている。アラブの外の世界で、イスラム教徒はー マレーシアやインドネシアなどー 彼らが民主主義の習慣を学ぶことができることを示してきている。トルコでも、独裁主義だが選ばれた首相であるRecep Tayyip Erdoganに対する抗議行動はアラブの春よりもブラジルとともに共通点が多い。トルコは、欠点はあるけれども、背後に軍隊が潜んでいた時よりも今日の方がより民主的だ。

The problem, then, is with Arab Islamists. That is hardly surprising. They have been schooled by decades of repression, which their movements survived only by being conspiratorial and organised. Their core supporters are a sizeable minority in most Arab countries. They cannot be ignored, and must instead be absorbed into the mainstream.


That is why Egypt’s coup is so tragic. Had the Muslim Brotherhood remained in power, they might have learned the tolerance and pragmatism needed for running a country. Instead, their suspicions about democratic politics have been confirmed. Now it is up to Tunisia, the first of the Arab countries to throw off the yoke of autocracy, to show that Arab Islamists can run countries decently. It might just do that: it is on its way to getting a constitution that could serve as the basis of a decent, inclusive democracy. If the rest of the Arab world moves in that direction, it will take many years to do so.




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