Sep 16, 2020
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Whose Kuril Islands. What a man without a silver spoon in his mouth thinks about controversial issues – Japan’s new prime minister

Yoshihide Suga became the new head of the Japanese Cabinet. A man with a biography unique to Japanese politics, which formed the main traits of his character. As you know, clannishness and nepotism reign in Japanese political life. The country's current leaders are the children and grandchildren of the former leaders. As earlier in the days of imperial Russia, the children of aristocrats made their careers almost from birth, so in modern Japan they get a political career for granted. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, even before his 30th birthday, took the post of secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs (his father, Shintaro Abe). And Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, is 39 years old for his fourth term in parliament, and is also Japan's minister of the environment for the second year.

However, Yoshihide Sugi's career was completely different. He was not born into an aristocratic family with a silver spoon in his mouth. His father was a simple farmer, his mother was a teacher, so the future prime minister fought his way all his life. He worked in a cardboard factory in order to raise money for training. Then, after graduating from university, he made a career in party structures and entered big politics only when he was almost 50 years old (in 1996, Yoshihide Suga became a member of parliament). He achieved all this thanks to his perseverance and hard work, bordering on workaholism (Yoshihide Suga gets up at five in the morning, does 100 squats and has business meetings already at 6.30), as well as his amazing ability to manage other people. Manipulate them.

In the ruling party of Japan (it consists of many factions, the support of which the prime minister must constantly enlist through various cunning and sometimes corrupt schemes) such skill was worth its weight in gold. That is why Yoshihide Suga has been the right-hand man of his predecessor as head of the cabinet, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for the past eight years. Suga served as the general secretary of the ruling party, and in this position was responsible for coordinating ministries and departments, managing a huge bureaucratic apparatus and making a rustle there. Japanese officials were afraid to anger the party secretary general, - explained Suga himself, who wrote a whole book on how to manage the bureaucracy.

“People - especially bureaucrats - think I'm a terrible person. But I'm actually very kind ... to those who take their work seriously

Yoshihide Suga

Politician and author of a book on how to manage bureaucracy

But will he be able to manage foreign policy processes in the same way? After all, he has no foreign policy experience, especially the same as that of Abe (who has visited almost 80 countries during his rule). Therefore, most likely, Yoshihide Suga will continue the foreign policy line of his predecessor, but will try to make it more effective, decisive and tough. Give her the traits that made him who he is.

And the state now needs these features, because, according to the Japanese, the geopolitical situation around the Land of the Rising Sun is getting worse every day. On the one hand, Japan is witnessing a sharp rise in China's geopolitical power, on the other, a decline in the international authority and reliability of the United States. And in the Sino-American confrontation, Tokyo is in the US camp, and will not be able to change sides (or become neutral) - not because of loyalty to Washington, but because of complex economic, historical, political and ideological contradictions with Beijing.

In order to survive in this situation (not to mention some kind of prosperity), Japan needs to build muscle, abolish the pacifist articles of the constitution, and also resolve the issue with the Kurils. Moreover, "to decide" here does not mean the landing of Japanese troops on the islands (as some frostbitten nationalists in Tokyo would like). The Japanese authorities must find the strength and abandon their claims to the "Northern Territories" (which will open the way for the Japanese to improve relations with Moscow and allow it to somehow pull it away from Beijing). And for political reasons, it is easier for a decisive prime minister, and even a hawk, to take such a step (for example, it was easier to normalize relations with China in 1971 under the anti-communist Richard Nixon - it was difficult for opponents to imagine this step of a strong Nixon as a surrender to the "red ").

The question is, will Yoshihide Sugi have time to take decisive steps? After all, for this he needs to win the next elections, and the decisive prime minister has serious problems with his image. Journalists do not like him very much and call him an "iron wall" - because Suga, who commented on Abe's actions, was never particularly talkative. And since he is the first Japanese prime minister, behind whom there is no political dynasty or a controlled faction in the ruling party, since he is backed by representatives of the golden youth (the same Shinjiro Koizumi), the term of office of the prime minister from the plow may not be long.

“He reached his current heights thanks to his skills in intimidating opponents, including members of the press, as well as dominating the political scene through behind-the-scenes deals and effective control of the bureaucracy. But Suga is not ready to become the public face of the party, which will have early parliamentary elections in the next year, because he is not eloquent enough for this.

Koichi Nakano

Professor at the University of Tokyo Sofia

Gevorg Mirzayan
Gevorg Mirzayan

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