Ian Bremmer, President of the Eurasia Group and renowned geopolitical risk analyst, argues that there was only one election in 2012 that really mattered.
His Reuters article is aptly named, ‘In a year of big elections, Japan’s was Godzilla.’
Here’s how Bremmer characterises the results of other major elections from the past year:
- China: largely the same as it was
- USA: Status quo preserved – GOP House, Democratic Senate, Obama presidency
- Russia: Putin goes from Prime Minister to President, retains control.
In his opinion, these seemingly important events “were largely red herrings.”
By contrast, he argues that the Japanese election signifies a major policy shift on at least two major fronts. We’ve commented on Shinzo Abe’s commitment to defeat deflation and repair the Japanese economy through monetary easing and stimulus.
But the second shift, Japanese nationalism, has a much broader global impact. China’s aggressive attempts to claim the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands have helped trigger this surge in Japanese nationalism, which Shinzo Abe reflects when he says that “The Senkaku Islands are inherently Japanese territory.”
Japan’s nativist turn was affirmed not only through the election of Shinzo Abe, but more importantly by the ascent of the Restoration Party, which wants to “remilitarize, rip up the U.S.-brokered Japanese constitution and install a federalized system.”
As the conflict with China continues to adversely affect Japanese exports, the island nation could turn to different, albeit less geographically convenient, trading partners.
Bremmer suggests that Japan ought to “engage with other countries that are concerned about China’s rise” and strengthen its ties with the U.S. Bremmer feels this separation from to approve of this Japanese turn away from China, recognising that any prolonged confrontation between the two would end in disaster for Japan.