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This volume offers a comparative analysis of Japanese and Russian politics in the 2010s, examining both domestic dimensions and foreign policy.



Japan and Russia: Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy

1. Japan and Russia: Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy

This volume attempts to present how Japanese and Russian academics portray and analyze the domestic politics and foreign policy of the two countries in the 2010s. In an era of globalization, Seymore Martin Lipset1 is most apt when he says that one never knows one country without knowing other countries. A foremost scholar specializing in and well-versed with one country cannot automatically be a scholar in the Lipset sense. When “socialism in one country” was a good slogan for Russia during much of the Soviet period (1917–1991) and when the Economic Planning Agency drew Japan’s “national economic outlook” in much of the preglobalization era (before 1985–), knowing one country was almost enough for country specialists—a starkly different feat in the 2010s.
Takashi Inoguchi

Japanese Politics: Leaders, Political Parties, and Economic Policy


2.1. Politics of Swings

Yoshihiko Noda won the party leadership election of the incumbent Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in September 2011, half a year after the great East Japan earthquake and the ensuing tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster of March 11, 2011.1 Noda became the third DPJ primeminister of Japan. He has survived longer as a prime minister than his five predecessors, Shinzō Abe, Yasuo Fukuda, Tarō Asō, Yukio Hatoyama, and Naoto Kan. But one common quality marks these six prime ministers, Liberal Democrat or Democrat, as their popularity rankings share a similar evolution: initial popularity usually registers between 50 to 60 percent and then falls at a steady rate of about five percent per month until about the one-year point when the popularity of each leader reaches its nadir of 10 to 15 per cent—at this time another prime minister enters as if through an automatic revolving door.2 It is said that Noda has survived slightly longer in part because of his success in legislating a tax hike. As of October 2012, his popularity ratings hover around 20–25 percent. But the trend looks the same. Sooner or later another prime minister will make his entrance. Rather than trying to give some explanations of this phenomenon here, let me try first to summarize what happened to Japanese politics as it evolved in 2012. After that, I will provide some general evaluations.3
Takashi Inoguchi

2.2. Political Parties in Disarray

In political science the most popular view holds that a political party emerges as a form of protest against privileges and power. Political parties in Japan, however, have never performed such a function. Since the birth of the modern party system political parties in Japan have been organized inside the existing power system and as an instrument of power against opposition. The main philosophy of Seiyukai (the first large oligarchic party, which formed the first party cabinet in 1900) was to be at the right hand of power.
Dmitry Streltsov

Russian Politics: Leaders, Kremlin and Politics of Vperyod (Forward)


3.1. Politics of Volatility

Post-Soviet Russia is almost in a continuous process of electoral and party system reform. However, in this ongoing process, there are certain stages or cycles.1 They reflect and simultaneously generate extremely controversial and conflictual reforms in the country in the past two decades. The result is that there is a huge variation in the estimates of the nature and the results of these transformations. Political reform, including electoral and party, attempts to overcome the tyranny of regional barons in the Russian neofeudal political and legal system that emerged in the early 1990s. Efforts to restore the unity of the state and the rule of law have received some support from society.
William Smirnov

3.2. Politics of Dictatorship and Pluralism

Understanding politics is always difficult, as political systems and behavior change constantly, and because they can be viewed differently by observers. This is all the more true with Russian politics, which has been adrift between democratization and authoritarian inclination. Still President Vladimir Putin’s regime between 2000 and 2007 was, though less democratic, more stable and predictable1 than previous times of uncertainty. Following this period was a tandem regime or duumvirate by Dmitry Medvedev as president and Putin as prime minister. Under this dual leadership system, things became more complicated and attracted wider attention. This tandem system of leadership ended in 2012 officially, and the new regime called PutinII has been evolving from May 2012 onward.
Nobuo Shimotomai

Japan and Russia Economics


4.1. Economics Takes Command

The Japanese economy has been in a slump since the 1990s. The growth rate of GDP in real terms has dropped from 4.6 percent in the 1980s to 1.2 percent in the 1990s to 0.6 percent in the first ten years of the twenty-first century. This decline is termed the Great Recession because the growth rate, while low, is not negative on average and so cannot be called a depression. What were the causes? One is that politics did not effectively respond to the symptoms. In the 1990s, Japanese politicians continued administering the same old medicine, that is, expansion of public works spending. The medicine, however, was not effective.
Yutaka Harada

4.2. Politics of Modernization

While the world is engaged in a process of rethinking its principles and values in the face of increasing disparities, growing chaos, and conflicts (ideological, political, economic, social, etc.), for Russia, it is important not only to join the global economy as an active participant but also to find ways of building a so-called civilized consensus on its path of development. Russia must deal with challenges that are not only global but also internal in origin. The challenges of an increasingly complex Russian society are associated with long-term, unresolved Russian problems (relationship between the center and the regions, issues of social justice, corruption, weak legal institutions, etc.). The elaboration of new strategies of development in a changing world community inevitably raises the question of modernization on the basis of new values and ideological orientations. It is no coincidence that the keyword of current political discourse in Russia is modernization. In Russia’s case, broad definitions of modernization, in our view, are most appropriate. For example, philosopher Vitaly Tolstykh defines modernization as a country’s readiness to respond to the challenges of the globalization era in all spheres of life—economic, science, engineering and technology, social, cultural spheres.1 Therefore, modernization implies movement to a new modernity of the twenty-first century, and therefore this chapter focuses on new strategies of Russian modernization.
Liubov Karelova

Japanese Foreign Policy: “searching for an Honorable Place in the World”


5.1. Continuity in Alliance

Just over 20 years have passed since the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s. In that time, the global balance of power has shifted, and particularly in the past decade international relations in the Asia-Pacific region have undergone major changes. How Japan deals with these changes is a core issue for its foreign policy. Japan’s foreign and national security policy-making has, however, been in disarray since the change of government three and a half years ago, and it has not been able to respond adequately to the changing situation in Asia.
Shigeki Hakamada

5.2. Foreign Policy in Statu Nascendi

This chapter is a review of Russian opinions, views, and assessments of Tokyo’s diplomatic activities in the last decade. The author is far from having the slightest ambitions to reveal anything new to Japanese colleagues, though he has something to say on how Russian politicians, public opinion leaders, and Japanologists see the problem. It is also an attempt: (1) to assemble together an “opinion jig-saw puzzle” of numerous small, often oddly shaped, and messy pieces of information; (2) to find common denominators; and (3) to formulate some prognostic assessments. The Russian vision of Japanese foreign policy may appear somewhat distorted in a slightly curved mirror that reflects, at times, not so much real problems of the Japanese foreign policy as Russia’s own foreign policy anxieties and phobia.
Sergey V. Chugrov

Russian Foreign Policy: Vperyod (Russia Go Forward) Eastward?


6.1. Improvising at Kremlin

Russia throughout its history has been repeating cycles: from reform to conservative consolidation, from international conciliation to confrontation, and from defense to expansion. This is because Russia cannot be fully incorporated in the mainstream of the global economy, as it largely lacks a capacity for self-sustained economic development. The direction of today’s Russia is ambiguous with a mixture of contradictory elements: conciliation and anti-Americanism, desire to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and conservative consolidation of its society.
Akio Kawato

6.2. Pragmatic Realism

The foreign policy of modern Russia is based on the principle of “pragmatism,” and it is this guiding principle that is employed to address and solve world problems. The Russian minister of foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov stresses that the “key principles of the Russian foreign policy, such as pragmatism, openness, multi-vectorness, are consistently applied, but without confrontation, in upholding national intere st s.”1 Lavrov in his “conceptual speeches” explains that these considerations form the foundations for present-day Russia’s foreign policy in the modern world. He also emphasizes that these principles are the central ones that characterize Russia’s foreign policy through all principal documents, starting from the “Concept of the Foreign of the Russian Federation”2 through to future documents of this kind.
Sergey Oznobishchev


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