Japan is currently facing many struggles, ranging from high national debt to political stagnation. In an event held Wednesday at AEI, experts from both Japan and the U.S. discussed the actions Japan should take to revive its political and economic systems and protect its security. Taro Kono of the National Diet insisted that the Liberal Democratic Party should focus on center-right policies such as small government and economic growth to motivate the general public to participate in the political discussion and future elections. He emphasized the responsibility of Japan's politicians to reinvigorate the country. AEI's Claude Barfield pointed out the significance to Japan of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which he noted will be difficult but beneficial to both Japan and the U.S. Tetsuo Kotani of the Okazaki Institute also emphasized the importance of leadership in Japan, calling for leaders with "philosophy and determination." Although Japan currently confronts many difficulties in its political, economic, and national security arenas, AEI's Michael Auslin focused on Japan’s strengths and stability. Finally, Sugio Takahashi of Japan's National Institute for Defense Studies and Ministry of Defense illustrated some dynamics in Japan's security policy, claiming that this is a sphere where the political parties have mostly come to a consensus. On balance, the speakers emphasized that although many problems exist, there is still hope for Japan to enact the policies it needs to win its future.
Japan has fallen on hard times. Economic and political stagnation and the March 2011 earthquake have inhibited the nation from assuming a more proactive global role. But Japan, one of America's bedrock allies, has an important part to play in the coming "Asian century." How can Japan reinvigorate its political and economic systems? Given China's rise and increasing assertiveness, how will Japan approach an uncertain security environment? At this AEI event, Taro Kono (Liberal Democratic Party) will offer his vision for what Japan needs to win its future, followed by a panel discussion with AEI and Japanese scholars.