On Wednesday, August 21, JASH members and guests were very fortunate to have a presentation by Dr. Sheila Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Dr. Smith analyzed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic agenda for Japan’s future from multiple angles.
Dr. Smith spoke on the current tensions between Japan and China, especially over ownership of the Senkaku Islands. Current interactions on the water between Japan and China are stable, but Prime Minister Abe still refers to the need to defend the Senkaku Islands. Revisions to the Japanese Constitution may also be in order, in particular, Article 9 (use of force as a means of settling international disputes). Japan must consider what Article 9 does and doesn’t do for their security. Mr. Abe will also probably move forward with the increase on the consumption tax. His vision overall is to end post-war constraints on Japan. “Abenomics” needs to succeed for Japan to have a strong economy so it can also have a strong defense.
We thank Dr. Smith for taking time out of her Hawaii visit to enlighten us on the current situation in Japan. Locals and Japanese nationals in the audience were very pleased with the question and answer session which allowed them to gain new insights into the China-Japan relationship, educational reform (in particular, the need for institutional transformation, broader government support, and social reward for risk taking), and the Japanese constitution.