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Mar 30

Japan: Sick Man of Asia?

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Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

Near-term uncertainties abound in Japanese politics, affirming the Japanese proverb, "one inch ahead is darkness."  A revolving door of prime ministers suffering from low public support has raised questions over the fate of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party while a seemingly inevitable opposition party election victory has been derailed by political scandal.  The upcoming legislative balloting is again a horse race but both parties are weakened and neither is generating strong voter enthusiasm.

Would a victory by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan lead Japan to assume a bolder leadership role in Asia?  Or will the next prime minister, whoever it is, preside over a Japan that continues to founder economically, with a political system seemingly designed for inefficiency, and acquiescent to China filling the Asian leadership vacuum?  During a time of crisis, can Japan overcome its doldrums and exert strong political and economic leadership or will it continue to punch below its weight on the international stage?  Should Washington continue to press Tokyo to assume a larger security role in Asia and globally or lower its expectations for the bilateral alliance?

Despite its problems, Japan has greater economic and financial capabilities than its neighbors, which could enable it to play a strong role.  Tokyo can rightly argue that it hasn't received enough credit for its economic contributions, instead being overshadowed by international enthusiasm over China's growing but still smaller role.

Panelists will discuss the potential and challenges to Japan assuming a larger, more dynamic leadership role on the international stage, as well as the long-term implications for the United States and Asia of a "sleeping Japan, rising China?"

More About the Speakers

Dr. Michael J. Green
Associate Professor,
Georgetown University,
and Senior Advisor and Japan Chair,
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Yoichi Kato
Bureau Chief,
Asahi Shimbun

Dr. Derek Scissors
Research Fellow,
Asian Studies Center,
The Heritage Foundation

Hosted By

Bruce Klingner Bruce Klingner

Senior Research Fellow, Northeast Asia Read More