With the Abe administration apparently committed to a policy of fostering national pride, whether through constitutional revision or culturally conservative forms of education reform, it remains unclear if there will be any effort in future to promote the Emperor system as a vehicle for patriotic revival. Any steps in such a direction would be hugely controversial. Naruhito, the new Emperor is likely to maintain the de-politicised stance of his father, while epitomising the balance between traditional and modern values that has been a hallmark of the Heisei era.
What are the key challenges faced by Japan in the Reiwa era?
Japan’s key challenges in the Reiwa era are the familiar ones of sustaining economic prosperity, offsetting rapid demographic decline in Japan, and adapting Japan’s foreign and security policy to an increasingly more unstable global and regional environment. While the country’s is enjoying a historically long period of economic growth, growth itself is very modest at around the 1% mark, and Japan has yet to escape from the trap of persistent deflation or stagnant wages. Low productivity in key sectors remains a problem, as does the challenge of offsetting the relative growth of rival economies, most notably China and India, and the rise of trade protectionism, particularly as practiced by a more explicitly transactional United States. Abe’s willingness to open the country partially to increased immigration of 340,000 over the next five years may help address the country’s chronic labour shortages but risks stimulating a populist backlash at home. In foreign policy, the country’s more proactive, minilateral approach, involving a range of new security partnerships in the Indo-Pacific and beyond is sensible, but may be undercut by capacity constraints, Japanese public nervousness about the risk of being inadvertently embroiled in new conflict situations, and the challenge of working effectively with Japan’s core alliance partner, the United States.
Copyright : JIJI PRESS / AFP