Japan Going Far Left
In its recent nationwide elections, Japanese politics shifted significantly. The Liberal Democratic Party – very much like our Democrats – was the ‘establishment’ party that had ruled practically uninterrupted since 1955 and was voted out by a large margin in late August.
It was replaced not by a more conservative pro-growth party that might address Japan’s decades-long economic crisis, but by a farther-left institution called the Democratic Party of Japan. This bodes poorly for the future, the equivalent of Obama’s election in the US but without a Republican party in opposition.
The LDP had maintained tax and spending policies that have kept Japan in a deep recession since the 1990 collapse of its stock and real estate markets. Japan has had sky-high government spending and the highest corporate tax rate in the world, discouraging economic investment on the island. The 1990s in Japan are called The Lost Decade. And with Obama’s high-tax policies, the US is going to face a Lost Decade or worse if the Republican party does begin to take back the government.
With Japan being surpassed as the #2 in economy in the world by China – the US is #1 – its 70% turnout of 104 million eligible voters in the recent election may well seal its fate. The DPJ claimed 308 seats out of 480 in the lower house of parliament, compared with 115 seats before the election.
“Japanese people feel profound anger toward the current politics,” said Yukio Hatoyama, the nation’s likely next prime minister and head of the DPJ.
Yet according to a poll by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, only 54% of respondents said that they believed that the DPJ would fix anything. And there is reason for such doubt.
Japan’s economy is a shambles. Its growth has been anemic for decades and continues to be slow. And its national debt is now 170% of its Gross Domestic Product, while America’s is less than half that, even with Obama’s spending thrown in. This debt load is and has been a massive drag on the Japanese economy.
Yet the new DPJ actually is planning spending increases much the way Obama is trying to spend the US out of recession. Neither plan will work. Conservatives recently swept to power across uber-socialist Europe after the people finally came to the conclusion that more socialism is not the key to economic stasis and decline, but that more capitalism is. The Japanese remain way behind the curve.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
“The DPJ offers a social-spending plan that includes a child allowance of $3,300 a year, meant as a solution to Japan’s declining population and rising average of age of its citizens. It seeks a wider social safety net and restrictions on the ability of companies to hire temporary workers. It also proposes to re-evaluate Japan’s strong ties with the US – including a review of US military facilities in Okinawa – and to explore greater regional alliances.”
“Still… (the) party has offered few specifics on how it plans to pay for its initiatives.”
Sound familiar? Is this not similar to what is happening in the United States, but without 20 years of recession behind us?
Look at these proposals:
*A $3,300 per year tax credit per child. This is ostensibly intended to spur childbearing in a nation with a notoriously low birth rate and a rapidly aging population. But such a financial sop is not even vaguely enough to turn the decades-long situation around. There needs to be an earthquake in the socialist/feminist bias against childbearing that is not going to be solved by a petty handout. There needs to be a fundamental shift in thinking.
*A wider safety net? This means more spending and more debt in a nation that already has far too much of both. Because a family in an economic crisis does not spend more and more money, but becomes thrifty and lean. The idea that an entire nation is any different is sophistry.
*Restrictions on temporary workers? This is part of Japan‘s leftist Big Labor policy that ultimately kills jobs and hurts private-sector companies. The Japanese economy is wracked by high labor costs and hidebound laws that restrict private enterprise in flexibility on hiring and firing. This simply pushes jobs overseas.
*Japan’s feeble military spending is a throwback to World War II. It currently spends about one-fourth as much as the United States per person on its military, and has relied heavily on US protection since the 1940s to deal with threats from China, the Soviet Union and North Korea. That the DPJ now may force 8,000 US Marines off Okinawa is a testament to the leftward/pacifist drift of the new party. We should take advantage and bring our troops back home.
Even with such low military expenditures, Japan‘s debt – like Europe’s – has ballooned, showing a nation spending its way into oblivion. This all must change fundamentally. How many election cycles this may require is an open question.
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