Japan’s populist, pragmatic new PM Suga pushes Abe’s vision


Tokyo (AP) – Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, left for Vietnam and Indonesia on Sunday after taking over from his former boss Shinzo Abe last month.

The choice to visit Southeast Asia underscores Japan’s efforts to counter Chinese influence and build stronger economic and defense ties in the region, consistent with Abe’s vision.

It also reflects epistemic realities. The US compromised with domestic politics before the November 3 election, with Sugga not directly turning to Washington for talks with Japan as Japan’s most important ally after replacing Abe, who resigned for health reasons .

As he emerges from Abe’s shadow with the promise of “working for the people”, Sugga is proving even harder in some ways. This has given rise to hackles within Japan and the ability to rib neighbors who were already dissatisfied with Abe’s nationalist agenda.

Abe vowed to restore Japan’s botanical diplomatic stature and national pride by amending the World War II pacifist constitution to promote traditional family values ​​such as ultra-nationalist policies and allow for a more foreign military role and capability after Japan. Had eaten

While Abe continued to travel abroad during his nearly eight-year tenure, often as Japan’s top salesman, Suga stayed home mostly to manage bureaucrats to pursue economic, security and other domestic policies.

Suga hopes to sign a bilateral defense equipment and technology transfer agreement as part of efforts by Vietnam to boost exports of Japanese-made military equipment. This is an indication that Suga is sure to follow Abe’s footsteps in diplomacy.

Meanwhile, Suga, best known for working behind the scenes, has worked to advance Abe’s agenda as chief cabinet secretary. More populist image than its predecessor.

With most countries in the world battling the coronovirus epidemic, including Japan, Suga is more focused on bringing the results back home.

So far, he appears to be trying to disassociate himself from Abe by taking out a hodge-podge of consumer-friendly policies to demonstrate his practical and quick work.

With national elections within months, he cannot afford to waste time.

Sugga told reporters on Friday that everything that is always on my mind needs to be completed without hesitation and haste and should start doing whatever is possible… let people recognize the change. in office.

Suga has ordered his cabinet to run through the approval of several projects such as eliminating the need for widely used Japanese-style “Henko” stamps in place of signatures on business and government documents. He is moving forward with his first efforts to reduce cellphone rates and promote the use of computers and online government and business.

Faced with Japan’s low birth rate and shrinking population, she favors providing insurance coverage for infertility treatment.

Rosuke Nishida, a sociologist at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, said, “So far, Prime Minister Suga has been working on policies that are easy to understand and popular to many, as his administration clearly wants to maintain a high support rating . ” “He is boldly tackling reforms one by one, and it is his strategy to make his government look as if it is achieving results.”

At the same time, Suga’s refusal, without explanation, to approve the appointments of the six professors out of the slate of 105 has led Japan’s state-funded Science Council to accuse it of trying to discontent and hinder academic freedom .

Flapp is unlikely to be implicated in a serious crisis for Sugga, who offered no explanation other than to say that his decision was legal and that the group of academics advising and examining government policies should be acceptable to the public.

But it joins concerns that Sugga may be more outspoken than Abe in silencing the protest: The council, formed in 1949, has repeatedly opposed military technology research at universities, most recently in 2017. The objection of government funding for such research is in contrast to Abe’s efforts to increase Japan’s military capability.

Many Japanese, especially academics, are wary of the abuse of power given the history of the country’s military repression during World War II after the war and during anti-communist campaigns.

Historian Masayasu Hosaka, writing in the Manichi newspaper, described it as “pure”.

The surprise decision sent Suga’s support rating for the cabinet to rise above 60% shortly after going above 50% the previous week.

Expressing concern over a possible interference in academic freedom, the Ministry of Education urged public schools to display black clothes symbolizing mourning with the national flag and to observe silence to show respect to the late Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakotone, whose state finances The funeral was held on Saturday.

Such moves would come as no surprise under Abe, who remained adamant on his ultra-conservative agenda as the grandson of war leader Nobusuke Kishi and heir to the political dynasty.

But while Sugga’s own personal ideology is unknown, he followed Abe’s example in donating rituals of religious jewelery to the Yasukuni shrine on Saturday to honor the dead in battle. China and South Korea regard the shrine, which also remembers Japanese war criminals, symbolizing Japan’s military past.

Nishida said, “There is no person with any ideology or political vision.” “His failure to articulate a mid-to-long-term goal is worrisome … Everything he does seems to be for electoral gains.”

Some analysts say that may prove risky. The heavyweight within the governing Liberal Democratic Party did not associate Sugga with any of the party’s factions as a self-made politician, his support when Abe abruptly parted.

Suga easily lost his support, despite his cabinet and party executive lineup, which shows that he is alert to his precarious position, with Koichi Nakano, an international politics professor at Sofia University in Tokyo and Abe’s Criticize.

(Asterisk) Originally, the LDP is a party of hereditary politicians, and this is Mr. Suga’s weakness, (asterisk) Nakano said.

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Follow Mari Yamaguchi at https://www.twitter.com/mariyamaguchi

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