Japón

La démission du Premier Ministre Abe Shinzo fin août fut surprenante de par sa soudaineté, mais des signes annonciateurs étaient perceptibles depuis plusieurs semaines. Les rumeurs concernant son état de santé grouillaient en raison de deux visites successives à l’hôpital. M. Abe semblait également de plus en plus distant et détaché des affaires gouvernementales, malgré la menace toujours aigüe du coronavirus. Sa popularité avait d’ailleurs fortement chuté depuis le début de 2020 à cause d’une réponse du gouvernement central jugée lente et désorganisée. Un collègue japonais me disait avec assurance début août déjà que le règne de M. Abe touchait à sa fin.…  Seguir leyendo »

La razón oficial de la renuncia de Shinzo Abe al cargo de primer ministro de Japón (que ocupó por más tiempo que nadie) fue su salud. Es posible que con su partida también termine el programa de política económica que caracterizó su mandato.

La «Abenomics» se presentó con bombos y platillos en 2013; es buen momento pues para analizar sus resultados en estos siete años. La versión oficial publicada en el sitio web del gobierno de Japón siempre habló de tres «flechas»: una política monetaria decidida, una política fiscal flexible y una estrategia de crecimiento con reforma estructural incluida.

Está claro que de las tres, el acento estuvo puesto en la política monetaria.…  Seguir leyendo »

Visitors at the Kitano Tenmangu shrine in Kyoto on the 75th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in the second world war last month. Photograph: Dai Kurokawa/EPA

Seventy-five years after the end of the second world war in the Pacific, the human suffering of millions of combatants and civilians is easily overlooked in a binary focus on allied victory and Japanese surrender.

Three-quarters of a century later, Japanese humiliation still simmers in politics and among families of the surrendered or dead. On the other side, meanwhile, countless were the returned soldiers and their families who have long harboured seething hatred for the Japanese.

The Pacific war officially ended on 2 September 1945 when Japanese and American representatives signed documents formalising Japan’s unconditional surrender aboard USS Missouri.

Some 71,000 British and commonwealth soldiers, including more than 12,000 prisoners of war – among them 8,000 Australians – died in the Pacific.…  Seguir leyendo »

La repentina renuncia (por motivos de salud) de Shinzo Abe pone fin al mandato de quien fue el primer ministro de Japón por más tiempo. Abe, el estadista japonés con mayor reconocimiento internacional desde 1945, ha sido, entre otras cosas, el líder mundial más dispuesto a jugar al golf con el presidente estadounidense Donald Trump.

Abe se va con una economía que todavía es débil, pero aumentó la fortaleza y la autonomía de Japón en cuestiones de defensa y política exterior. Es probable que quien lo suceda continúe por la misma senda, lo cual es buena noticia para los partidarios de la paz en el este de Asia y, más en general, del orden internacional basado en reglas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan announced his resignation at a news conference on Friday. Credit Pool photo by Franck Robichon

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s announcement on Friday that he would resign because of poor health was a rather abrupt end for a supposedly strong leader. Mr. Abe has ruled Japan, most recently, for a record seven years and eight months: He is the country’s longest-serving prime minister.

The decision was a surprise — and yet it wasn’t.

A chronic illness was also the reason Mr. Abe cited when he suddenly resigned from his first stint as prime minister in 2007.

The matter of his health had surfaced again a couple of weeks ago when, after he underwent a medical checkup, a former minister and close associate of Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Geopolitical wags can’t help but wonder whether botched coronavirus responses constitute a “Chernobyl moment” for China or the United States. In Japan, though, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is facing a Fukushima problem.

Comparisons to Tokyo’s opaque, deer-in-the-headlights reaction to a 2011 nuclear crisis nearly 150 miles away are popping up more than Abe would like. That crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant saw a previous government play down radioactive threats to avoid public panic, deflect blame and criticize the foreign media.

Japan’s handling of the covid-19 outbreak seems eerily reminiscent. Just ask Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who headed the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tokyo’s coronavirus “state of emergency” is as surreal as they come. Though the streets are noticeably quieter than normal, subways and buses are still jammed with commuters. Stock trading goes on as normal. Many bars, restaurants and cafes are abuzz. So are barbershops, beauty salons and home improvement centers. In Shibuya and other meccas of youth culture, teenagers who should be hunkering down at home are out and about.

Leave it to Japan’s largest metropolis to morph shelter-in-place into a giant kabuki performance starring 8.3 million people.

Tokyo’s largely performative lockdown is also an apt metaphor for how Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is mismanaging an economy cratering by the day.…  Seguir leyendo »

En momentos en que la crisis global del COVID-19 se acelera grandes áreas del planeta, el Primer Ministro japonés Shinzo Abe ha tenido que aceptar la dura verdad y, con sensatez, ha tomado esta semana la iniciativa de decir a la Dieta (parlamento) que es probable que haya que reprogramar los Juegos Olímpicos de Verano, que se realizarán en Tokio. Finalmente llegó a un acuerdo con el Comité Olímpico Internacional (COI) para posponer el evento hasta 2021. (EL COI se había planteado cuatro semanas para decidir qué hacer).

Hasta hace poco, era comprensible la reticencia de Abe a retrasar los Juegos.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the coronavirus pandemic spiraling around the world, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics are unlikely to go ahead as planned. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe all but threw in the towel at a news conference this week. He and various Olympic officials have repeatedly insisted that the Games will be held as planned in July and August, but this time he left the timing up in the air, suggesting he is resigned to a postponement. Then, on Thursday, NHK television broadcast Diet deliberations where Abe was pointedly questioned about exactly when the Games would be held, and again dodged the issue.…  Seguir leyendo »

Cancel. The. Olympics.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 Olympic organizers insist that the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games will go on. Even with widespread cancellations in European soccer, Formula One auto racing, and professional and collegiate basketball in the United States, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan vowed, “We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem, as planned.”

While sports can create an escape hatch from the grit and grind of daily life, there is no escaping the fact that the coronavirus pandemic presents an extraordinary challenge that cannot be overcome with mere platitudes and prayers.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tokyo staff replace athletes during test events for the Olympics at the Aomi Urban Sports Park in early March. Christopher Jue/EPA

The World Health Organization’s decision to officially recognise the coronavirus outbreak as a global pandemic means organisers are facing difficult decisions on whether to go ahead with major sporting events. There were more than 124,000 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in 118 countries, and more than 4,600 documented deaths by March 12. This is a problem for sports events around the world – not least the Olympic Games, scheduled to start in Tokyo at the end of July.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the main approach to prevent the spread of coronavirus is social distancing and practising proper hand hygiene.…  Seguir leyendo »

The inadequacy of the government’s response was exposed by the unmitigated epidemiological and public relations disaster that was the saga of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, shown here in Yokohama on Feb. 21.Credit...Philip Fong/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Japanese government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak has been staggeringly incompetent. Why, when so much is at stake for Japan, especially as the host country of the Olympics this summer?

The first infection in Japan was confirmed on Jan. 28. The World Health Organization declared the coronavirus to be “a public health emergency of international concern” on Jan. 30. But it took until Feb. 17 for the Health Ministry of Japan to even inform the public about when, where and how to contact government health care centers in case of a suspected infection. And it was only this Tuesday that the government finally adopted a “basic policy” for responding to the outbreak — which essentially boiled down to asking people to stay home.…  Seguir leyendo »

Japan’s bureaucrats are great at some things. Crisis management doesn’t seem to be one of them.

As it attempts to manage the fallout of the covid-19 coronavirus — which has taken the lives of more than 2,000 people worldwide, including a Japanese man and woman on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship — Japan is reliving the bureaucratic red-tape nightmares that hampered emergency efforts in Kobe in 1995 and Fukushima in 2011.

After a major quake devastated Kobe in 1995, volunteers who came to offer help to the displaced were turned away by officials, as were Swiss search-and-rescue dogs because authorities refused to relax quarantine regulations.…  Seguir leyendo »

Carlos Ghosn, the French-Lebanese-Brazilian former C.E.O. of the Nissan and Renault motor companies, spent millions of dollars to avoid being tried in Japan for financial malfeasance. He jumped bail by paying a crack team of security experts to smuggle him out of the country in a private jet.

Mr. Ghosn justified his escape from Japanese justice by depicting himself as the victim of “naked bias.” The Japanese legal system is “rigged,” he has said, and as a foreigner he was subjected to “double standards.” His Japanese colleagues at Nissan had colluded with the prosecutors to oust him, he says, because they were afraid that Renault, a French company, would swallow up its Japanese counterpart.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Shinzo Abe is taking a big political risk, which has grown with Suleimani’s assassination.’ Protesters in Tokyo with placards reading: ‘Do not send Japan’s self-defence forces to the Middle East.’ Photograph: Hiroki Yamauchi/AP

Since the end of the second world war and the enactment of its pacifist constitution, Japan has deployed its forces overseas mostly on peacekeeping operations under UN auspices – and almost never to places where its troops are in harm’s way. But next month, the country will send a naval destroyer to the Middle East. On what is being described as an intelligence-gathering mission, the warship will patrol the Gulf of Oman, the northern part of the Arabian sea and a portion of the Bab el-Mandeb strait, following a series of attacks on oil tankers in the region – including one that was Japanese-operated.…  Seguir leyendo »

A community health worker administers an oral polio vaccine to a child, during a mass vaccination campaign in Manilla, Philippines, on Oct. 13. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Japan knew that the task of rebuilding a nation would require investments not only in new infrastructure but also in human capital.

Japan made a political choice: a choice to invest in the health of its population through a universal health insurance scheme that ensured everyone was covered.

Today, Japan has the world’s longest life expectancy and the world’s third-largest economy.

In 2021, Japan will celebrate the 60th anniversary of its universal health insurance scheme. Japan’s health-care system is considered one of the best in the world — accessible, effective, efficient, available to all citizens and affordable.…  Seguir leyendo »

Geografía aparte, Japón y la Unión Europea nunca estuvieron tan cerca. Con los antiguos vínculos transatlánticos europeos bajo presión y China, que plantea tanto un desafío como una oportunidad, la UE ha buscado aliados con ideas afines en el Pacífico. No hay ninguno mejor que Japón.

El vínculo entre la UE y Japón trasciende el mero interés: es una relación basada en valores compartidos de libertad, democracia y libre mercado. Hoy, esos valores están bajo amenaza. Estados Unidos ha decidido hacer negocios con el mundo en vez de liderarlo, mientras China desafía a la democracia en su entorno y reescribe las normas internacionales diseñadas para mantener la paz y la estabilidad mundial.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘It causes intentional harm to those who suffered.’ South Korean protesters tear Japanese rising sun flags at a protest in Seoul, South Korea, September 2019. Photograph: Lee Jin-man/AP

Imagine if, at the opening ceremony of the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, the stadium were filled to capacity with fans waving the American Confederate flag. A similarly hurtful scene could become reality at the Tokyo Games next summer, if the Japanese “rising sun” flag is on display.

Japanese athletes and fans regularly sport their national flag – a red ball centred on white. The rising sun symbol is different, however. A red ball with 16 red rays, it is sometimes used by companies in advertisements, yet it is technically a military flag: from 1870 until the end of the second world war, it was imperial Japan’s war flag.…  Seguir leyendo »

For several months, Japan and South Korea, America’s main allies in East Asia, have been going at each other. Japan stripped South Korea of trading privileges; then South Korea removed Japan from a list of favored trade partners. In late August, Seoul announced that it would cancel an agreement with Tokyo over the sharing of sensitive military intelligence, including about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. The tiff, some observers argue, marks a low in relations since the two countries normalized ties in 1965 after decades of friction over conflicting interpretations of Japan’s record during its occupation of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945 — forced labor, territorial claims, sexual slavery.…  Seguir leyendo »

Where the Cold War Never Ended

In a rational world, South Korea and Japan ought to be the best of friends. Their cultures and languages are closely linked. Their economies are deeply entangled. And as the only liberal democracies in East Asia (along with Taiwan), they have to contend with the threat of North Korean belligerence and Chinese domination.

But the world is not so rational, and so the two American allies have recently become engaged in a flaming economic row, ostensibly sparked by historical wrongs. Late last year, the South Korean Supreme Court ruled that Japanese companies should compensate Koreans who were forced to work in Japanese factories and mines during World War II.…  Seguir leyendo »