Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Worthwhile Reads For October 16, 2013

You Can't Touch This - Ayako Mie in The Japan Times on the really spiny legislation up for debate and a vote in the brief 52 days left before the end of the Extraordinary Diet Session (Link - J) --  bills so potentially explosive Prime Minister Abe Shinzo failed to mention them in his Diet Policy Address (Link - J). The omission of even a hint about the Official Secrets bill, which surrogates like Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Ishiba Shigeru have been touting as a package deal with the establishment of a national security council, shows how fraught the outlook is.

Reform My Sweet Watusi - Sawa Takamitsu can be all over the map in his commentaries (a trait shared by a certain yours truly) but he hits the mark in an essay, also in the JT, accusing the Abe administration of reversing the reform legacy of not just the Koizumi administration, but the Nakasone administration as well. His sharpest characterization? That the peculiar attempt to browbeat big business into delivering wage hikes -- rather than, for example, creating incentives for more hiring of permanent workers or higher wages for workers already hired -- is nothing more than an attempt to establish a form of state capitalism. (Link)

As for Abe's numerous public declarations of wanting to earn the title of "Japan's #1 Salesman" it is strange that the promise has not stimulated journalists and commentators to recall French president Charles De Gaulle's famous description of Prime Minister Ikeda Hayato as a vulgar little transistors merchant.

They Made The Bed. You Have To Lie In It - Robert Dujarric, writing for The Diplomat, tells it like it is regarding the so-called East Asian history problem: Japan's engagement with historical issues is compared to West Germany's and likely always will be. Yes, the Japanese right is right: it is unfair. Incredibly so. Jiminy never told you, Fate is unkind sometimes, too. (Link)

Can You See The Real Me? Walter Lohman, John Fleming and Olivia Enos of the Heritage Foundation have produced a series of beautifully edited graphics pages providing the visual starting points for many a discussion of Asian security and economic issues. Pretty, pretty, pretty. (Link)

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