RPI Author Mike Mochizuki: Thoughts on Upcoming Elections in Japan
Mike Mochizuki, Rising Powers Initiative scholar and associate professor of political science and international relations at George Washington University, was recently interviewed by The Japan Times on Tokyo’s upcoming elections. Here are some highlights from that news report.
On what U.S. policymakers would like to see in the elections:
The United States hopes Japan’s Upper House election will bring political stability to its key regional ally that will in turn yield progress on long-pending bilateral issues, an expert on Tokyo-Washington relations said.
“What the American officials want is . . . political stability” in Japan, said Mike Mochizuki.
On the role of stability in addressing pressing challenges in U.S.-Japan relations:
Bilateral negotiations over key issues, such as the relocation of the U.S. Futenma air station in Okinawa Prefecture and Japan’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks, have become bogged down by the revolving door of prime ministers in Tokyo. The nation has seen a new prime minister sworn in almost every year since 2006, due mainly to the absence of strong leadership and infighting within both the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan, which was in office from 2009 to 2012.
“That’s what, I think, the American policymakers see as not a good thing,” Mochizuki said.
Finally, Professor Mochizuki warns Japanese leaders against any visits to controversial shrine:
On top of that, Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Abe’s right-hand man, and around 160 other Diet lawmakers in April visited war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo, angering China and South Korea, who view the Shinto shrine as a symbol of Japan’s past military aggression. Abe has expressed his intention to visit Yasukuni in his official capacity of prime minister, though he has so far refrained from doing so due to diplomatic considerations, according to his aides.
Any trip by Abe to Yasukuni, which honors convicted Class-A war criminals along with the nation’s war dead, “will damage relations with China, it will damage relations with (South) Korea and it might even damage relations with the United States,” warned Mochizuki of George Washington University.