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Byline: Ulfat Amer

The term Reaganomics coined in the 1980s referred to the economic policies of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. The four pillars of Reaganomics were: a) to reduce the growth of government spending b) reduce federal income tax and capital gains tax c) reduce government regulation and d) tighten the money supply in order to reduce inflation.

Now, in 2017, comes Abenomics which defines the economic policies advocated by the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Like the four pillars in Reaganomics, Abenomics is based on three arrows which are: a) monetary easing b) fiscal stimulus and c) structural reforms. Since Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has secured a resounding victory for a third term in the elections to the Lower House of Japan's Diet, he can now safely go ahead with economic and constitutional reforms. With an overwhelming position in the House, his government is all set to focus more on his Abenomics strategy to further consolidate the economy.

A June assessment of the IMF also confirms Japan's sustained growth as evidence of the success of the Abe model. He now has enough time to play the long game. He wants to amend Article 9 of Japan's constitution which rejects war as a means to resolve global disputes - definitely a bold move. But then, this may not be a cakewalk for him despite a brute majority in the House for Japanese voters. They include both ideological peace-lovers and those who prefer their leader to focus on improving the economy rather than getting involved in foreign conflicts. They may oppose his move. So Abe in all probability will wait until his third term is fully secured before making any bold move.

How difficult it would be for Abe to convince the peace loving Japanese that the time has come to maintain a full-fledged army requires an understanding of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution. It is a clause in the national Constitution of Japan which rejects war as a means to settle international disputes involving the state. The Constitution came into effect on May 3, 1947, following World War II. In its text, the state formally renounced the sovereign right of belligerency and aims at global peace based on justice and order. The article also states that, to accomplish these aims, armed forces with war potential will not be maintained. Japan does maintain de facto armed forces, referred to as the Japan Self-Defence Forces.

In September 2015, the Japanese National Diet made the reinterpretation official by enacting a series of laws allowing the Japan Self-Defence Forces to provide only material support to allies engaged in combat internationally. Abe is best known for his strong stance on Japan's defence, particularly in territorial rows. In 2015 he pushed for Japan's right to collective self-defence, which is the ability to mobilize troops overseas to defend themselves and allies under attack. This controversial change in law was approved by Japan's parliament but encountered significant opposition from the Japanese public, China and South Korea. He hopes to amend the country's constitution by 2020 in order to formally recognize the military forces.

After his party's landslide victory in the parliamentary elections on Oct. 22, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is more than ready to become his country's strongest and most successful leader in the postwar era. Abe, 60, has been Japan's prime minister since December 2012 after his party's landslide win in the elections. It was Abe's second tenure in the top job, after a brief term as prime minister from 2006 to 2007. At that time, he was Japan's youngest leader since World War II, but he stepped down on health grounds as support for his administration tumbled. Under him, a number of measures were introduced aimed at boosting Japan's struggling economy. Ties with China, however, remained tense over territorial and historic disputes. But when he won this year's snap election, it paved the way for him to become Japan's longest-serving prime minister.

Known as a right-wing hawk, he belongs to a high-profile political family. His father, Shintaro Abe, was a foreign minister and his grandfather was Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi.

Abe won his first seat in parliament in 1993. Appointed to the cabinet for the first time in October 2005, he was allotted the high-profile role of chief cabinet secretary. When he became prime minister a year later, he was seen as a man in the image of his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi - telegenic, outspoken and with a similar popular appeal to voters. But, unfortunately, a series of scandals and political miscalculations harmed his administration, including the revelation that the government had lost pension records affecting about 50 million claims. A heavy loss for the LDP in the upper house elections in July 2007 was the reason for his decision to resign. He returned to Japan's political stage in 2012, renewing his mandate in the 2014 election and now again.

Now, having cleared all the hurdles, he would hope to gather support to accord legal status to the Japan Self-Defence Forces, leaving intact the no-war provisions in the 1947 constitution. According to political analysts, Abe now has his eyes set on seeing the country through the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They also see U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to Japan a grand success. During his stay in Japan, Prime Minister Abe went all out to welcome the President and First Lady Melania Trump. Their itinerary was filled with a mixture of official and unofficial activities, which signaled the importance that Trump's visit had for Japan. The contact between the two leaders is of great significance keeping in view the attitude of North Korea and Abe's plan to amend article 9 of the constitution.

There cannot be two opinions about the fact that Abe has once again defied his critics and proven himself to be one of the finest Japanese politicians of the post-war era. Facing scandals and a challenge from within the ruling Party to his continued leadership, Abe opted for a frontal attack. Calling early elections before his opponents were ready to seriously confront him and taking advantage of the looming crisis surrounding North Korea, Abe successfully re-established his power in the country and in the ruling party. Now political observers are keenly watching what Abe intends to do with his newly refreshed authority. Will he spend it on achieving his 'life-long goal of constitutional revision, or will he finish another part of his wartime time history agenda and make a peace treaty deal with Russia?'
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Publication:South Asia
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Dec 13, 2017
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