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Oriental Society

Oriental Society
Dr Ian Neary on Japanese Politics

Dr Ian Neary, lecturer in Japanese politics at the University of Oxford, came to speak to the Oriental Society about the significance of the recent changes in the country’s political administration, and the future of Japanese international relations. The talk centred on the momentous events of last summer when  the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) ended the Liberal Democratic Party’s nearly continuous rule over 54 years. According to Dr Neary, the DPJ will fulfil their promises on reducing Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25% . Due to the widespread concerns with regard to the aging population, the party will encourage a greater national birth rate by providing subsidies designed to reduce the marginal cost of having a second child and making public high school education free. The downside is that the Japanese national debt, which is almost 150% of GDP, will continue to increase.

The Japanese government is also seeking to make the country less dependent on the USA, with the possible goal of eventually forming a coalition of Asian countries similar to the EU. However the only way that the DPJ can aspire to long-term plans is by winning the forthcoming July elections for the House of Councilors. If it does so, it will then have control over both the House of Councilors and the House of Representatives, which will grant it complete control over future policies until 2013. If this were to happen, there is a chance that the LDP may never be able to recover, and that the DPJ will take its place over the next decades, which, ironically, may just prevent the goal of a two-party system that the DPJ was set up to create.

Arno Albici (ASR)

DATE POSTED: 22 January 2010

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