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Securing Japan

TOKYO – Shinzo Abe’s second term as Japan’s prime minister began with a laser-like focus on economic revitalization. That policy, almost instantly dubbed “Abenomics,” comprises what have been called the three “arrows”: bold monetary policy, an expansionary fiscal stance, and structural reforms to stimulate private investment. Hosting the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 has added a fourth arrow to this quiver in the form of increased infrastructure investment and tourism revenue in the years leading up to the Games.

To be sure, after 15 years of deflationary recession, revitalization of the Japanese economy remains far from complete. Nonetheless, the effects of Abe’s reforms are becoming visible in areas such as equity prices and exchange rates.

But Abe also confronts a security environment in Asia that is every bit as brittle as Japan’s economy was before his government took office last December. Indeed, he confronted many of the same issues during his first administration seven years ago. His efforts back then were halted by his own resignation, and he is now making a second attempt to establish a national-security governance system to meet Japan’s needs – and those of its allies – in twenty-first-century Asia.

In a speech to a plenary session of the lower house of Japan’s Diet on October 25, Abe emphasized that, given the current security situation in Asia, “It is essential to strengthen command functions for implementing the prime minister’s national security policy.” Now that split control of the Diet’s upper and lower houses has been resolved, with Abe’s Liberal Democrats in strong control of both chambers, a bill to modernize Japan’s national-security governance is certain to pass.