Will the Japanese vote in the elections on July 10 for the policy of “guns instead of butter”?
Elections for the upper house of councilors of the Japanese Parliament are scheduled for July 10 in Japan. Although the lower house is the main one in terms of decision-making, the Japanese often use the elections to the upper house to express dissatisfaction with the policies of the ruling group. Now the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP), in order to secure a majority in both chambers, has entered into a coalition with the Buddhist Komeito Party, including its members in the government.
Fumio Kishida’s cabinet so far enjoys, by Japanese standards, satisfactory support from about half of the population. However, a downward trend in the rating of the Japanese central government has emerged. Public approval of the government fell 2.1% points in the first half of June to 48.7% from May, a June 16 survey by the Jiji Press news agency showed. And the level of disapproval rose by 2.8 points to 22.0%. The share of respondents who said that they do not have their own opinion is 29.3%.
This result reflects people’s concern about the future as prices continue to rise. The government is unable to cope with the depreciation of the yen against the dollar. Criticism of the monetary policy of the Bank of Japan (Central Bank) is intensifying.
In the report of the research center True Data there has been a significant increase in food prices throughout Japan. For the year to the end of May, vegetable oil has risen in price by one and a half times, mayonnaise – by 30%, pasta – by 14%. Wheat flour has risen in price by more than 9%, bread – by 8%. The depreciation of the yen makes all imported goods more expensive. And Japan’s dependence on food imported from abroad is great. Today, Japan is only 37% self-sufficient in terms of kilocalories, the lowest level in the history of the country.
In fiscal year 2021 (ended March 31, 2022), the report says True DataThe country spent more than 7 trillion yen (about $55.4 billion) on food imports. It is purchased mainly in the United States, China is in second place by a wide margin. Up to 80-90% of Japan’s grain and beef imports come from these two countries.
The majority of respondents (79.6%) stated that the government is taking insufficient measures in the current situation.
Another issue affecting the attitude of the Japanese to government policy is the announced program for the revival of Japan as a military power. Shortly after coming to power, Prime Minister Kishida stated in a keynote speech to parliament that the country would “increase its defense capabilities, considering all options, including the possibility of inflicting (preemptive) strikes on enemy bases.” This is an unconditional departure from the defensive principle of building the armed forces. We are talking about strikes against the bases of neighboring nuclear powers – Russia, China and North Korea.
“The security situation surrounding our country is very difficult. Economic security, outer space, cyberspace are new areas (of security). Rocket technology is advancing at an incredible rate. On all these issues, in order to protect the life of the people, it is necessary, without excluding various options, including attacks on enemy bases, to consider from the point of view of reality and quickly increase the country’s defense capability. For this, a national security strategy and a medium-term plan for equipping the defense capability will be developed during the year,” Kishida said.
The psychological indoctrination of the Japanese population in the spirit of escalating tension around the NMD in Ukraine, North Korea’s missile tests, and Beijing’s preparations to seize Taiwan does not go unnoticed. More and more Japanese agree with the plans for the military strengthening of Japan. After all, there is no guarantee that if Japan clashes with one of its neighbors, the Americans will come to the rescue and defend the Japanese with their armed forces. I remember the calls of the previous US President Donald Trump to “rich Japan” to stop relying only on the United States, and to create nuclear weapons and defend themselves.
And the Biden administration is signaling that it is time for Japan to end its pacifism by getting more actively involved in military confrontation with Russia and China.
The statements of Kurt Campbell, Coordinator for the Indian and Pacific Regions at the US National Security Council, deserve close attention. Speaking at the Center for a New American Security (Washington), he stated:The United States does not care about the current rearmament of Germany and Japan, which in the last century fought with the Allies during World War II» [выделено нами. – А.К.]. Speaking about the military policy of Germany and Japan, Campbell noted that it is characterized by “fundamental engagement with transatlantic partners, close partnership with the United States, and a transparent, responsible set of ambitious targets for increasing defense spending.” He urged Japan to make “the right decisions regarding a more active role in all areas.”
And now, more than half of the Japanese surveyed agree with the policy of “guns instead of butter” and a five-year program to build up the power of the Japanese army and navy. According to a late-May poll by the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper, 56% of those polled were in favor of increasing defense spending and 31% said they were against. 60% agreed that Japan should have “strike back capability”, which Kishida insists.
True, different polls give different results. According to a survey conducted recently by the Kyodo Chushin agency, only 37.2% agree with the increase in military spending, while 34% of those polled say they are against it. The Land of the Rising Sun is also split on the issue of removing the ban on the possession of the country’s armed forces from the Constitution of Japan: one half agrees with this, the other does not.
The ruling LDP, together with deputies from the Komeito party, have a majority in both houses of parliament. Most likely, this situation will continue. However, by supporting the opposition parties, Japanese voters may not allow the LDP and Komeito to have a constitutional majority in the upper house, which is necessary, in particular, to decide on a referendum on changing the Constitution. It can be organized only after two-thirds of the deputies of both houses of the country’s parliament support the revision.
The Japanese have little time before the elections. Vote for the policy of “guns instead of butter” or elect a parliament in which the opposition will be able to block the most odious bills that do not take into account the interests of the people?
Photo: REUTERS/Issei Kato
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