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Japan: turn to conservatism. Foreword Печать E-mail
03.02.2016 г.


Today there is a worldwide strong demand for conservative ideology and for the successful conservative modernization, which has taken place in the Western countries and Japan. The top echelon of the "United Russia" party which proclaimed itself to be a party of Russian conservatism believes that "the XX century proved that it was conservatives who were the most successful at modernization... The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, which is one of the core elements of the conservative international, has turned a substantially feudal state into a modern developed nation... We remember the modernization carried out by a party founded by Charles de Gaulle... It was conservatives who actually managed to shape up the face of modern France as we know it"[1]. Looking back at the Western and the Japanese successful conservative modernization campaigns free from social disturbances and catastrophes, Russian political experts and analysts see the reasons for their success in the fact that it was the conservatives who took on the risks and responsibilities of the modernization.

While the conservatism and conservative modernization of the West is well known there is still an evident lack of knowledge of similar processes in Japan. A group of authors working in The Center for Japanese Studies of The Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences issued two books "Japan: half a century of Liberal Democratic rule" (2010) and "Japan: modernization experience" (2011). Thinking about the current book the authors set a task of assessing the current situation in the country in order to find out whether the process of "conservative turn" is taking place, and if it is then to learn the way it is happening. In other words the authors tried to show that the conservatism is no longer about "remembering the past", but about the evaluation of the internal development of various areas of life of the Japanese society.

Before we turn directly to the Japanese case it seems appropriate to analyze the reason why there is a renewed interest to the conservative ideology on a global scale and to which extent does the conservative ideology meet the requirements of the modern society.

The development of the modern society has for a long time been based on the conflict between the two major ideologies of liberalism and conserva­tism. In theory conservatism is an ideological orientation and political move­ment that stands for preservation of traditional values and practices. Eventually the place of conservatism in history has started to change. More and more often various kinds of synthesis of traditional and new values have started to emerge. Conservatism is turning into a social ideology with values that both change under the influence of liberalism and have an impact on it.

As the modern age continued to develop, various versions of the liberal-conservative synthesis turned into a basis of social order in the historical centers of modernization. The most distant parts of the modern world are united by globalization. Such notions as "center" and "province" are no longer tied to spatial localization. On one hand universal values lead to total standardization of life, on the other they bring on a new quest for diversity and uniqueness. As a result the link between tradition and development is becoming clearer. From the mid XX century onwards there has been a turn towards a new progress paradigm with the rise of the role of traditional values as a response to social request for modernization[2].

The ideas beneath liberalism, social democracy or communism do not depend much on national features, which makes them universal ideological structures. Conservatism, however, is based on traditions that vary a lot depending on the country, nation, and civilization. That is why conservatism carries a national "color" that reflects the specifics of the historic development and value system of each nation or state. "Thus there are many conservatisms. Only a few most common principles and basic ideas are universal, but there are no general ideological dogmas or certain patterns for social life setup. Therefore, in many essential aspects Russian conservatism naturally differs from the one in Britain, USA, Germany or Japan"[3].

Tracing out fundamentals in theory and practice of conservative parties in the Western countries, especially in the USA helps compare them to the theory and practice of the conservatives in Japan which is the subject of this book. A detailed research of the problems of modern conservatism was carried out by "Terra America" in a report called "Modern conservatism in the West" supported by the noncommercial foundation called the Institute of socio-eco­nomic and political research (ISEPR Foundation). The research was published in the ISEPR Foundation Almanac "Essays on conservatism"[4]. The report shows the evolution of the conservative ideology in the Western countries with its fragmentation into separate categories, provides characteristics for the activities of the old conservative parties and highlights the reasons for emerging of the new ones. Special attention is given to conservatism in the USA as there has emerged a new wave associated with the "Tea Party" movement, which some political analysts (especially the American ones) try to find in the political life of Japan.

Recently the conservative ideology and the conservative movement in the western nations have split into several trends that are hardly related to one another. Old conservative parties frequently appropriate the opinions of liberal, populist or even leftist parties.

The political platforms of most western conservative parties are mostly based on liberal conservatism. Conservatism of this kind is focused on economic issues and emphasizes sustainable economic growth, competition, decrease of state's involvement in the economy, provision of favorable con­ditions for business and stimulation of business initiative; it accepts moderate social support for the public by the state but stands against open protectionism and massive state economy intrusion. In general liberal conservatism sticks to the economic program of neoliberalism which is common for most major conservative parties. Liberal conservatism seeks to significantly restrain social expenditures and prevent their ongoing growth if not completely eradicate the "commonwealth state".

Another trend - social conservatism - is primarily focused on the preser­vation of traditional moral values such as strengthening of a family, legislative definition of a marriage exclusively as an alliance of a man and a woman, prohibition of adoption by unisexual couples, etc. While in the USA social conservatism plays a major role, in Europe however conservatives frequently drop support for traditional values of Christian origin and promote post-Chris­tian liberal ideas.

Religious conservatism, which is closely interlaced with social conser­vatism, plays no significant part in the agenda of the Western conservative parties. Today it only has a share in the party system of the US and a few countries of Eastern Europe, for example Poland and Hungary.

National conservatism is based on the ideas of massive state interference into economy and protection of home market from unlimited international competition. Supporters of this kind of conservatism primarily seek national sovereignty within globalization (eurointegration) and place on their agenda issues like restrictions on ethnically and culturally alien immigra­tion, preservation of national self-identity and traditions. National conservatism is widely spread within the US Republican Party, and in the European Union it acquires a form of euroscepticism. While traditional conservative parties stand for the deepening of eurointegration, national conservatives are mostly associated with right-hand populist parties and eurosceptics.

The authors of the "Modern conservatism in the West" report believe that the last wave of conservatism in the West took place in the 1980s. Back then Thatcherism in Britain showed a new conservative model of socio-economic reforms and Reiganism in the USA prioritized moral values and reliance on the mass conservative movement of "the Moral majority". Even the Pope in Vatican at that time seemed to seamlessly blend devotion to the basic Christian values with the response to the challenges of the modern times.

In the 1990s a new type of liberals such as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair emerged. The return of liberalism to power was possible only in close alliance with the conservative values. Along with that there appeared a "synthesis of liberalism and conservatism that would combine traditional and contemporary values in different ways according to a certain national experience. Since then (its) various kinds are set as a major ideological and political direction in the developed countries. Whichever parties come to power, the political course would be set within the framework formed by the synthesis of liberal and conservative values"[5].

A new turn to conservatism in the developed countries comes with the rise of globalization. The reason is that such factors as an increase in mobility of funds, buildup of "information society" and "service economy", an increase of the penetrability of national borders, establishment of common information environment, vigorous flow of goods and migrants, and competition growth all lead to a large-scale reorganization of society and state. Older industrial centers face new problems while new centers of economic growth emerge. This, as a whole, calls for the creation of the new models of development, appropriate for the complicated society connected to the global network. Economist A. Y. Zudin fairly marks that "modern conservatism is more capable of coping with this task. Conservative values referred to state, security, family, order, power, collective identity are coming into focus all over the world. Internal evolution of conservative ideology is taking place as well. Conservative thought starts to acknowledge the idea of "collective future" which is totally replacing the "past" as its semantic center... Conservatism is turning into a natural ideology of a sophisticated society integrated into the dynamic global world"[6].

The development trends of traditional conservative parties in the West and USA along with the emergence of new populist conservative parties are of a special interest within the scope of the objectives of this book. At present the picture of conservative parties in Western Europe is ambivalent. Some parties such as German CDU/CSU hold leading positions in national politics, while others for example British Conservative party are under strong pressure from other parties and have lost some of its electorate to them. Most recently in the US the Republican Party has noticeably reinforced its positions by integrating right-hand populist movement "the Tea party" into its ranks, with its voters being a major part of its own electorate. The movement was formed back in 2009-2010 as "a conservative reaction from below to Obama's left-wing liberal policy". Its ideology and the place it occupies in a political spectrum puts the "Tea party" in a row with the new Western Europe parties standing on the positions of right-hand populism and euroscepticism"[7].

In Western Europe the wide spread of populism begins from the 1970s. It can be defined as political practice which appeals to the interests and values of common people. Populist politicians usually offer simple solutions to complicated problems in simple words. Vagueness of the "commonwealth state" and the following disappointment in its ideas along with the wide spread of neoliberalism blurred the difference between traditional leftist and the conservatives' political programs. In order to attract voters political parties began to make negative passes mostly at elite circles or allegedly privileged groups, for example trade unions. Koizumi Junichiro and Tony Blair for instance came to power partially by means of populist gestures criticizing their own parties.

Another reason for the spread of populism was the growing influence of mass media especially television which highlights contradiction between what was "shallowly promised" and actually put into practice. In the US some mass media openly stand for a certain party. Koizumi also used to rely on mass media as he judged all political issues as right or wrong ignoring the common notion of politics being a struggle for benefits for all population groups. Thus in the developed countries neoliberalism is obviously connected to populism. The agenda of the conservatives, which is closely tied up to the protection of traditional values, is shifting to the rightist populist parties, forcing systematic conservative parties to adjust their courses.

Today conservatism is developing in two directions, right and left. The right trend positions conservatism as a force opposing fundamental trends of development of the West, with its increasing intervention by the state into economy, erosion and bureaucratization of democracy, propagation of post-Christian liberal ideology. The left trend seeks to turn conservatism into a social mass movement against dominating liberal elites, trying to unite leftists and rightists who speak for strengthening the sovereignty of states. A new definition of conservatism as an ideology protecting the interests of majority in social and ethic problems acts as a core of such consolidation.

Keeping in mind this vision of conservatism in the modern world let us take a close look at the agenda of the ruling Liberal Democratic party of Japan which has come back to power after years in opposition. Japan, as well as Germany, is a country where conservative parties and governments together have achieved undeniable social and economic success. As a result, most conservative voters see no reason in switching their electoral preferences even if they are not completely satisfied with some neoliberal settings. Con­vincing victory by Japanese conservatives during snap-elections of December 2014 provided for a relatively smooth realization of their policy in close perspective. This is the evidence that they are making a definitive turn to a modern conservatism "under the influence of globalization, its effects and imperatives".

Conservatism is "obliged to wear national colors" by definition, that is why the first chapter of the article is called "The faces of Japanese conser­vatism: the past and the future". Writing about Japanese conservatism is easy and at the same time it is difficult. It is easy because of the fact that most Japanese - be it today or a hundred or two hundred years ago - share this inherent conservative way in their view of life and philosophy. It is difficult because of the prevalence of this feature. A "conservative person" is first of all a protector who respects, keeps and reproduces a sustainable model of "order" as opposed to "chaos", "alien" and as a rule "new" yet with some reservations needed.

There is a number of "Japanese conservatisms" and sometimes it is difficult to tell if they are phenomena of the same origin, whether we are talking about a political practice, political or social philosophy or a model of social behavior. Throughout the historic timeline of Japanese conservatism as a political force, political and social philosophy and ideology (which is about a hundred and fifty years long) several various points of view or orientations can be seen clearly.

The passeist-romantics have always been the most conservative wing. They feel nostalgic about the "golden age" of the past, about things that are gone, that have ended but left their mark. The past is thus "by definition" better than today. In today's Japan passeist-conservatives do not carry any significant political weight. However these people, who try to bring us the spirit of "genuine Japan", are not only a major part of the conservative mainstream, but can influence its more active and powerful part.

Conservatism is not a mere nostalgia for the past but it is a wish to keep it safe as it holds all personal accomplishments and progress. Many Japanese conservatives had a chance to play reformists, sometimes radical and even revolutionaries. Such were the makers of Meiji ishin conservative revolution (1868) who created a modern Japanese state that lasted until 1945: strictly centralized, vertical, autocratic, although decorated with some features of constitutional monarchy, modern and technically westernized, traditional, or to be precise ideologically traditionalistic.

All done, no more transformation needed! This was the feeling shared by old reformers as they observed their achievements, refusing to understand those who believed it was not enough. As they came to power young, full of energy and ambitions it had never occurred to them that one day they can get old and lose touch with reality, the volatility of which they had underestimated. They never systematically prepared young successors. Situation repeated itself in the early 1990s when the young reformers who came to power after the World War II grew old. It seems that the people who gave shape to modern Japan were going to live and rule forever never thinking about retirement.

During the Meiji period a part of liberals integrated into conservative mainstream forming the left wing of Japanese conservatism. The ruling conservative elite needed its own "liberals" to create an illusion of political pluralism as well as to cushion the effect of more conservative cabinets' pushing it too hard. Today as the political system of Japan stays "one and a half party" the LDP sole rule with its inside the party fraction to fraction power shifting it is the liberal conservatives who make the abovementioned "half party". They are not in power now.

Upon the political and ideological arena of today's Japan there are almost no conservative revolutionaries left of those who were playing major role in its history in XIX and early ХХ centuries starting from ideological and spiritual preparation of Meiji ishin to the events of the 1930s. Being the advocates of forced internal reformation they appeared to be closer to socialists and anarchists rather than to any other kind of conservatives. Governmental reprisal against the radical fraction of the movement after the mutiny of 1936 showed that the authorities are ready to eliminate revolutionaries of any kind be it conservatives, nationalists or loyalists.

Diverse Japanese conservatism is rooted in Meiji period which means that studying of its history holds a great political value and can help understand the nature of today's "conservative turn".

 In early post-war years a system of representative and parliamentary democracy was created by all interested parties yet without the change of the elite. Conservative elite remained in power. It exercised maximum pragmatism and realistically viewed the current situation which helped achieve continuity of traditions and national self-identification. Thus post-war Japan managed to keep collective memory, national unity and appeal of its cultural history.

The second chapter «Japanese conservatives' way to total victory" shows upon a large factual background that the history of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) founded in 1955 actually is the way of the Japanese conservatives to a total victory. Japan needed such a party, firstly in order to support the environment for sustainable economic growth, which became really fast-paced, secondly to resist a potential threat of loss of power due to the merger of all social democratic forces into one party.

The pre-war conservative elite, only minor part of which had been eliminated, created a system of parliamentary democracy. There were no arguing between its members about the necessity of creating a powerful conservative party, yet it was major politicians who fought for the party leadership. Conservatism as ideological base for the party was neither an articulate theory nor an integral system of thought. It was rather a political practice which helped liberal democrats fully absorb all the peculiarities of the Japanese conservatism.

The dominance of LDP came with the conservatives' ideological standoff against social democrats represented by the Socialist Party of Japan. Political stage was getting more complicated, however there never existed an opposing force equal to the ruling LDP. Voting for the opposition parties, Japanese voters have never stood against conservative ideology in general; they only spoke out against certain policy of liberal democrats from time to time. Never­theless in the 1970s and in the 1980s there were some attempts to split the LDP, which led to it being away from power temporarily in early the 1990s.

During that period the situation in Japan was following the way very similar to that in the European countries where the new age liberals were breaking into political life. In 1996 the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was established, which kept its name after a number of transformations, and it became a major opposition party in 1996. However the rivalry between the liberal democrats and the democrats is not of much significance as they have much more simi­larities than contradictions. Originally most top leaders of the DPJ were former LDP members. They had common political and social background, similar views and opinions. In 2009 the DPJ made a head-spinning shot histo­rically winning the elections to the House of Representatives and actually switching places with the LDP within the national politics, yet it did not manage to stay in power.

Meanwhile a right-populist party founded by ambitious and charismatic Osaka mayor Hashimoto Toru, the Japan Restoration Party, broke into the game right before the national election in 2012. This election was won by the conservatives - LDP and the Japan Restoration Party. However serious contradictions appeared within the party's leadership: while Hashimoto agreed with Abe administrations on some issues, another leader Eda Kenji was ready to collaborate with the democrats. Hashimoto considered the results of the early national election of December 14th 2014 a failure and soon left the seat of the party leader in order to focus on the regional election campaign, the results of which also disappointed him. It is safe to say that within the period between the elections the popularity of the party and its leader decreased. The failure of Hashimoto's project of transformation of Osaka city administration during the referendum on May 17th 2015 can lead to his withdrawal from political activity. Nevertheless the current situation with the Japan Restoration Party can prompt the liberal democrats to make certain adjustments in the short-term plans as they are seeking to gain the support of the parliamentary opposition to pass a number of disputable bills.

The three following chapters of the book examine policy and practice of Abe's government in economic, agricultural and social spheres where the commitment to the conservative line is clearly seen.

Chapter three "State infrastructural policy of "progressive conserv­atism" identifies distinctive features of the conservative approach in its Japanese version, mechanisms of modernization of traditional policy courses within the globalized market and mega-competition through the example of the infrastructure construction (social capital) policy. Japanese government has always showed flexibility and versatility of economic policy yet it certainly contains elements of conservative and traditional approach. Nonetheless conservatism has succeeded traditionalism and has gained certain features relevant to the historical and social process of the new age. Here the present is opposed to the past.

The basis of the Japanese infrastructural policy had been set long before the united centrally-controlled state emerged. In Meiji period the creation of infrastructure became a matter of state policy that gradually united such courses as road-, bridge-, tunnel- and harbor engineering implementing new technologies that Japan adopted from the USA and Europe. This policy would be carried out on two levels: by the central state government and the local authorities with the assistance of private capital. At the same time institutional control base for construction and operation of infrastructural systems and facilities would form and advance producing road acts, railway engineering acts, facility maintenance regulations, etc. Infrastructure for daily living was also developed though at a smaller scale. Before the World War II Japan showed rapid pace of infrastructural development (the pace of social capital growth was ahead of the GDP growth rates) although the kind of industrialization can be classified as military-based.

After the World War II infrastructure building and especially industrial infrastructure building got on an even larger scale and regular basis due to the general line of economic recovery and ambitious plans to make the country one of the top economical powers. Not only current needs but also future requirements were considered. The work was carried out under medium-term economic plans (starting from the mid 1950-s five-year social work plans were introduced) with provision for rational utilization of natural and man-power resources and state funding assessment.

In the beginning of the new century infrastructure quality specifications and its place within the state socio-economic structure including socio-economic strategy have changed. Formerly infrastructural facility engineering and operation was seen as a cash-consuming affair. Modern economic situation has made Japan along with other developed countries see infrastructure moder­nization as one of the drivers of economic growth. Short-term investment into infrastructure promotes employment, long-term infrastructure renovation investment positively influences an increase in labor productivity, reduces production costs in many fields and brings economy to the trajectory of sustainable growth. Within the Japan recovery strategy, which is one of "the three arrows of Abenomics", there is a plan of developing a strategic market with all positions practically linked to infrastructure.

Abe's cabinet has also offered a strategy of global superiority. It goes on about Japan's leadership in industrial and social infrastructure. The government calls on companies to diversify forms of foreign business promoting export of "integrated systems", for example executing industrial and complex social infrastructural projects; according to the experts this can help significantly increase added value and create a stable market. Similar practice existed before. The new thing is that the projects are conducted on the basis of private-public partnership with the increasing engagement of large, small and medium-sized businesses and a great deal of governmental assistance. A special government guaranteed private-public Corporation was created in 2014 to finance infrastructural projects abroad. The demand for infrastructural projects and systems is on the rise all over the world and Japanese companies have to compete not only with Western corporations but with the local ones as well.

Japan's infrastructure development level is high in quantity, which means that the country, its economy and the people are well provided with infra­structure. According to the integrated growth indicator calculated by the World Economic Forum in terms of the global competitiveness assessment (2014-2015 rating covered 144 states and economies) Japan has the rightful 6th position.

At the same time according to experts a significant part of infrastructure facilities are in need of renovation or might be in the near future. Modern technologies used for their renovation will significantly improve quality char­acteristics. In 2012 third base technological progress plan for infrastructure modernization for 2012-2016 was accepted as a part of the priority plan for social capital development. Social capital innovations give way to the creation of infrastructure complexes of a new kind such as "smart cities" which are also available for export. There are 4 full-scale smart-city projects carried out in Japan today. They are Yokohama, Toyota, Keihan and Kita-Kyushu.     

One of the modern trends in infrastructural policy in Japan is the expansion of market mechanism application for infrastructure facilities engineering and operation (such as auction selling) as infrastructural projects are becoming more and more commercially attractive due to the slowdown of economic growth. A system of private-public partnership is gradually improving. Con­cession, consignation and other agreements were added to its original form. There is an increase in the number and capitalization of funds financing infra­structural projects outside Japan. Local authorities, residents and NGOs still take part in infrastructure development.

The goal setting for infrastructure policy in Japan relies heavily on tradit­ions and continuity, although it is adjusting to the current circumstances of slower economic growth, significant budget deficit and the necessity of finding new segments within the global infrastructure system business. As can be seen Japan's modern infrastructure policy contains elements of healthy "pro­gressive" conservatism and traditionalism which are being used quite prag­matically and are unlikely to slow down the policy implementation process.

The fourth chapter "Agriculture: will adherence to conservative reforms remain?" is dedicated to the agricultural policy of the Japanese government that has been hovering around fundamental institutional reform for decades. Today's agricultural sector is on the verge of reforms due to numerous development problems which include foreign food trade. The question is whether future restructuring will be structural or palliative, just as it used to be for the last 60 years when the government, even though it assessed the situation objectively and passed all the necessary acts and regulations designed to bring the change, would enforce them inconsistently without complying with all the arrangements.

The weak point of agricultural sector is the low competitive ability of the Japanese agricultural products on the foreign markets due to the high production costs. The reasons are small scale of farming and ineffective usage of farm land, high level of double employment, lack of young man-power, protectionist policy of the government which affects manufacturer's initiative, etc.

Today the reduction of agricultural production cost is a particularly hot topic since the expanding of the free trade agreement campaign and Japan's joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks. No wonder that the new economic growth strategy roadmap displays agricultural sector as a "third arrow of Abenomics" - agriculture has to become a growing industry. In December 2013 a "Plan for Development of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Regions" was approved. The plan was compiled to establish regional headquarters for farm-land control, review the measures for agricultural income stabilization including high added value product development, intense utilization of paddy-fields, rice manufacturing policy transformation with a system of direct pay-offs to profitable farming to support farmers' incomes.

In order to reinforce the agricultural sector the government finds it necessary to engage nonagricultural companies into agricultural production, widen farm lands, develop new cultivar species and production technologies, reform land committees and agricultural cooperatives, and for that purpose certain amend­ments to the laws on agricultural land, land committees and agricultural cor­poration are planned. The authors of this Plan believe that such measures will help agricultural sector become more competitive and rural areas "beautiful and vibrant".

There is one question left which is how these plans are going to be reflected in state laws and regulations as well as how they will be implemented. There is no doubt that it is not going to be easy taking into consideration all the facts that had led to the current situation in the field. Social factor should not be set aside neither. Drastic measures cannot but negatively influence the state of small and micro business which in turn will have a negative effect on the con­dition of local communities and the overall environment in the country.

It is fair to assume that even with radical reform measures taken, the Japanese government will do everything in its power to postpone the lowering or removal of the foreign trade tariffs on major agricultural products on one hand and on the other hand it will find opportunities to support income of the farmers who fail to adapt to this situation. Same as before the Japanese traditional mentality, proneness to compromise and paternalistic attitude of the people rooted in the Confucianism will come into play.

Chapter five "Social welfare policy by conservatives" demonstrates that in Japan social welfare problems are closely tied to the condition of society. Social welfare problems were minor within the domestic policy courses of the ruling LDP thanks to the favorable state of demography and economy as well as the ability of the state to use social security resource deriving from traditional Japanese family "ie" and quasi-family relations between employers and employees that formed in Japanese offices as a result of the life-employ­ment system establishment.

However as the time went by the Japanese society grew more modern and mature and social situation got more complicated. Traditional "ie" family decay, weakening of financial situation of the companies due to depression, rapid aging of population made previous conservative social policy line no longer efficient and demanded reinforcement of social security facilities on a national level. Starting from the mid 1980s social welfare issues got top priority on the ruling party's agenda sending costs higher and making social security system set and advanced.

Social policy of liberal democrats in the 1990-2000s can be characterized as divergence from the previous conservative line based on traditional values and a turn to neoconservative ideology with greater share of state responsibility in the field of social welfare and security.

By the time the liberal democrats lost power in 2009 an institutionally advanced social security net was operating in Japan. Its major features were the following. Firstly, it covered almost 100% of the population, secondly, it used social insurance plan as a support to its financial base, thirdly, lifetime social support for the citizens. However, due to fast aging of the population, economic pressures and decrease in the working population as well as the decline of the birth rate, the system of social welfare got more vulnerable in terms of its financial base. Postponing the reform of the system triggered the LDP's failure in election of 2009.

Back to power in 2012 the LDP started to act decisively and managed to make a great deal in the field of social welfare. Their main achievement was a decision to launch core transformation of pension scheme that should be started in October 2015. Their current policy in social welfare can be largely estimated as reproducing the neoconservative approach which started in the early 1990s. Although due to certain details they now intend to enhance the emphasis on the responsibility sharing for solving the problems among the three sides - individuals, local communities and the state. It is hard to say whether it can be judged as a conservative turn especially since the line between conservatism and neo-conservatism is quite thin when we are talking about social policy.

Chapter six "S. Abe cabinet educational policy: conservatism or res­ponse to the challenges of globalization?" describes Abe cabinet innova­tions as a conservative, if conservatism is seen as a higher level of state interference, an emphasis on patriotic education at school with governmental stance on disputed territorial issues represented in textbooks. Along with that the LDP measures on reforming local educational departments, overall trend for development of communication skills during English classes at school, international student exchange programs and reaching out to foreign students and teachers to attract them to the Japanese universities, striving to improve the quality of higher education - all of it is an attempt to give an adequate response to the new challenges of the globalization era and to cement Japan's place in this competitive battle.

Abe's educational policy can be called conservative but what this means is an exclusively dynamic and pragmatic conservatism that faces the future and is intended not just for solving current tasks but has a long-term outlook as well. All initiatives of Abe and his followers are of course being brought into the open discussion and exposed to necessary adjustments. For some researchers of Japan Abe's conservatism carries only negative connotations. Mentioning of territorial disputes in textbooks is viewed as an attempt to bring back the pre-war "flag-waving" and "militarism". However liberal democrats underline that the new generation needs more confidence in its power and more pride for its country. Despite all of the aforementioned planned changes liberal democrats do not intend to "restore" the pre-war political system and they confirm full support for democratic values.

On the other hand China is using disputable historic questions of the World War II and Japan-China relationship to discredit Japanese foreign policy not only in the eyes of its neighbors but its own citizens too. Multiple apologies of the Japanese government for Japanese military actions addressed to Beijing seem to have never been heard. That is why including territory disputes into the textbooks along with the measures designed to reinforce the US-Japan alliance can be seen as a reaction against the rise of the Chinese policy and propaganda.

Famous for its deeply rooted cultural tradition Japan is neither scared of globalization nor attempts to fence itself from the rest of the world nor thinks of isolation. The ruling elites clearly realize that only an exposure to external influence, international collaboration and adoption of successful practices can provide further prosperity. On the contrary, pursuit of isolation, an attempt to "inshell" and arrogant assurance of personal imaginary superiority leads to a deadlock, dropping behind and decay.

The following three chapters are dedicated to bilateral relationship between Japan and the neighboring countries which are China, the Republic of Korea and Russia seen through the prism of historic memory. This perspective was specifically chosen based upon a problem which is the sore spot of the nations that survived the Japanese occupation. This card is played in the trade-economic and diplomatic relations. The widely celebrated 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II gave new momentum to the problem of historic memory especially when it concerns Japan.

The problem of historic memory of the Japanese was examined by V. E. Molodyakov in his series of essays issued in the late 2000-s. Historic memory "can be either positive or negative, it can either grow naturally from the inside of the mind of a thinking individual or be addressed and controlled by external factors. Historic memory can have a great impact on separate individuals or various social and ethnic groups and even nations".[8]

Japan and the Japanese traditionally value historic memory a lot. The past is treated as a significant national asset, national heritage. Just as any other nation the historic memory of the Japanese is selective. Everybody has his "radiant past" to be proud of and "dark past" to be ashamed of. The trauma of historic memory of the Japanese is almost exclusively referred to external influence which is similar to the historic memory of the post-war Germany. The issue stays extremely sharp in Japan and holds significant place in the political agenda of the conservatives.

Chapter seven "70th anniversary of the end of the World War II and Japan-China relations" demonstrates that today's Japan-China relations are literally haunted by historic memory.

China has always thought of itself as a source of culture and enlightenment for its neighbor and considered Japan its vassal from the viewpoint of world hierarchy. This is why the defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 and continuous struggle against the Japanese aggression in the 1930s-1940s delivered a fatal blow to self-awareness of the neighboring state. Turning from a cradle of Eastern culture into a colonization target became a painful experience.

During the post-war period Japan has consistently apologized to Asian countries (including China of course), expressed repentance and firm inten­tion to never let the history repeat. Moreover Japan has done a great deal by supporting China financially through the program of the official development assistance (ODA) directing one fifth of the whole Japanese ODA budget to China (Japanese part exceeded 60% of all the funds China received from the developed countries). However the past still plays a central role in the relations of the two countries, be it diplomatic level or mutual perception. According to the 2014 survey 93% of the Japanese and 87% of the Chinese have either "negative" or "rather negative" image of each other.

During a post-war period past events were accompanied by other factors that would influence economic relations in both positive and negative ways. These are the Taiwan issue, Japanese textbooks' contents, discontent with the Japanese government members visiting Yasukuni shrine, nationalization of three of the Senkaku/Dyaoyuidao islands by the Japanese government. These are the cause of problems in some areas of the Japan-China cooperation such as trade, Japanese direct investment and tourism.

The fact that while Chinese economy suffered post-war imbalance Japan became a leading economic power of the East Asia probably explains the stability of the historic memory. In terms of ideology Chinese elites were using anti-Japanese propaganda to a certain extent in order to tone down domestic issues and divert public attention from the social problems. Besides that, over the last twenty years Japan as well as China both got involved in the network of geopolitical ties. These are the territorial dispute in the East China Sea, Taiwan issue and the problem of the permanent membership of the major countries in the UN Security Council.

A problem of the "military past" became an indispensible part of Japan-China relations complex giving grounds to growing rivalry between the two countries involving other world powers. Due to the "reform and opening up" policy China became a major player in the world's economics and politics while Japanese technologies and direct investment helped it achieve economic growth. Both countries are currently bound by investment line as well as trade line. Japan is the third export partner and the second import partner of China, while China has been Japan's number one import source and export direction for over 10 years.

At the same time the political relationship between Japan and China is balancing between restraint and a hard line. Both sides are trying to avoid political conflict yet none is ready to concede in the dispute about sovereignty over the Senkaku/Dyaoyuidao islands. By now the problem of Japan-China relationship became complicated and global. It can be said that historic past is in some way fading amid heightened tensions (especially Senkaku/Dyaoyuidao issue) yet in some way it aggravates the relationship.

Chapter eight "Historic memory as a foreign policy factor (on the Japan relationship with the Republic of Korea)" contains a message that the attitude towards the historic memory shared by one or another cabinet in Japan acts as some kind of a "business card" and stays important for any bilateral relationship just like Japan-China relationship. Mutual claims of the Japanese and the Koreans are rooted in historic past that has many painful issues yet the most sensitive scar is the Japanese colonization in early XX century.

As a result of the peculiar process of liberation of the Koreans from the Japanese colonial rule the Korean peninsula got divided into two states. Essentially all the serious tensions between Japan and the two states of the Korean peninsula are rooted in the history of their relationship. The chapter examines the relationship between Japan and the Republic Korea. From the very beginning the Koreans thought that Japan was unwilling to repent the mistake of colonization. It is however recognized that during the colonial rule Japan was investing a lot into economic development and education of the region. However the Koreans couldn't put up with the loss of their nationalism. All these reasons created difficulties and delayed the normalization of diplomatic relations.

Today Japan and the Republic Korea have strong economic ties, they are united in their standoff with the DPRK and are bound by a mutual security agreement. Yet they keep a low profile despite all efforts of the USA directed towards the development of military cooperation inside the USA - Japan - the Republic Korea triangle. Korea as well as China believes that Japan has showed too little repentance for its military past. A recent erection of a memorial in Harbin dedicated to a Korean patriot Ahn Jung-Geun, an assassin of Japanese politician Ito Hirobumi, can serve to illustrate this.

Another sore point within the relationship of Japan with China and the Republic of Korea are the Japanese politicians visiting Yasukuni shrine - a symbol of the military past. Piles of books have been written on the subject, however it stays on top of the agenda. Another sensitive matter of "army comfort women" (jugun ianfu) is being used in a same manner. The Tokto/Takeshima islands issue is another matter of dispute.

Today the Japan - South Korea relations are in a deep crisis; mutual dislike between the people of the two nations is getting stronger; new claims are being sought out, for example the demand for compensation for the labor of the Korean workers who were forced to work at the Japanese factories during the Pacific War. However the reason for strained relations between Japan and the Republic Korea is not only based on the problem of the interpretation of the historic past but also on the fact that the Republic of Korea has started to de-emphasize Japan as a partner while showing increasing interest in China. Such trends as " the South Korean focus on ties with China" and "the South Korean estrangement from Japan" appear on against such this background.

Chapter nine "The problem of "Siberian imprisonment" as a historical memory component" deals with a subject of the Japanese war prisoners who were taken to the soviet concentration camps after the WWII. Due to the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II the subject reappeared in the Japanese press and political agenda. When at power the democrats made certain efforts to solve a problem of compensation payments to former prisoners of war to cover their work at Soviet camps. Officials of the Abe cabinet which replaced the democrats distanced themselves from these complicated socio-political matters. The main measures taken in this field are identification of the Japanese missing persons on the territory of the USSR, investigating their death reasons and searching for their grave sites. Today there are still over 20 000 names on the missing persons list. It is a huge problem for a nation with strong traditions of honoring ancestors and for a country where the problem of military past and the attitude toward this past still have great power not only upon social mentality but on relationship with neighboring states as well.

"Siberian imprisonment" is a symbolic notion for the Japanese as it had affected approximately every sixth family. It has firmly settled within the historic memory of the nation and is associated with the tragic events of the Soviet-Japanese war as out of 623 thousand people sent to the USSR for compulsory labor over 60 thousand never came back. Japanese authorities have always been modest and pragmatic about these issues and the LDP has followed the line with no significant change throughout the time. The LDP would see the problem of "Siberian imprisonment" as one of the unsolved issues of the postwar settlement with the USSR and would only use it to add pressure to the negative attitude towards our country inside Japan.

The destiny of these people was first discussed during the Soviet-Japan talks on the normalization of the bilateral relationship in 1955-1956. The countries returned to the theme only in 1991 during the official visit of the President of the USSR M. S. Gorbachev to Japan. However part of the commitments taken in this humanitarian sphere remained unrealized. There are certain direct and indirect reasons for that besides that the issue should be viewed within the context of the current Russian-Japanese relationship. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is determined to "continue to work hard towards the settlement of the territorial dispute with Russia and sign a peace treaty between our countries". However it stays unclear if somehow he is going to revisit the issue of "the Siberian imprisonment" which is one of the subjects of the postwar settlement of the treaty. Anyway it remains on the agenda of the bilateral relationship.

Chapter ten "Security policy reforms by Abe Shinzo" discusses the way the Japanese Prime-minister S.Abe is trying to conduct a full-scale reform of the system of national security. His diplomatic agenda is so well-defined that it was dubbed "the Abe doctrine", the doctrine that changes security paradigm in the region and has an impact on the whole complex of international ties. Abe's initiatives are comprehensive: for the first time in the country's history an official National Security Strategy has been adopted, a number of acts concerning the development of the security policy has been revised. Along with shaping the concept of national security policy its decision-making mechanism is being reinforced. A National Security Council (NSC) has been established, a system of classified information security as well as a data sharing system with friendly states are being developed. The culmination of the reform was the recognition of Japan's right to exercise collective self-defense which actually lifts restrictions on international activity of its armed forces and lets them participate in a wide range of operations within the region and the world.

In light of the new constitutional interpretation the Guidelines of the US - Japan security cooperation have been revised. They include strengthening of bilateral coordination, deeper integration of the two countries' armed forces especially within the so called security "grey zones" and Japan's participation in the auxiliary operations during the US military actions all around the world.

Changes in the national security policy are followed by ideological work with the public. The decision to review history textbooks, debates on the Yasukuni shrine visits, discussions of the Japanese aggression towards neighboring countries during the WWII all aim at getting rid of the post-war guilt complex and reinforce national consciousness. In the name of "active contribution to peace" Japan is phasing out restrictions and principles that for many years have formed the vector of its post-war development.

The last chapter 11 "Abe Shinzo on beautiful and new Japan" is based upon the new enhanced edition of the conservative leader's program book re­issued in 2012. It was previously issued under the title "Towards a beautiful country" in 2006. The new version is called "Towards a new country".

A "beautiful country" is (as the author believes) a country where citizens are provided with dignified existence conditions such as conditions to get education and make an honest creative living, where security, private freedom and natural human rights are guaranteed to everybody. It is a country where people protect Mother Nature, treat their culture and traditions with care and strengthen friendly relations with other countries gaining their respect and trust.

Abe believes that post-war domestic and foreign policy as well as unfavorable conditions that followed the collapse of the bubble economy eroded confidence of the Japanese about their country and deprived them of their trust in government. In order to bring this pride back it is necessary to eliminate deflation, remove the damage caused by the Great East-Japan Earthquake of 2011, provide a growth strategy, resolve social problems and restore educational system. Abe pays special attention to the growth strategy that should go along with the national security upgrade. Security upgrade will give Japan a chance to become a truly sovereign and independent state. As a prime minister the author sees his mission in turning Japan into "a country where one would be happy and proud to be born". Time will show if he succeeds.

[1] Transcript record of "The United Russia" project presentation http:/ Stenogramma-presentacii-

[2] Essays on conservatism: ISEPR Foundation Almanac: 2 (2): Forum «Berdyaev readings», May 16th 2014 reports and essays. М.: Noncommercial foundation - Institute of socio-economic and political researches (ISEPR Foundation). p. 8.

[3] http:/

[4] Modern conservatism in the West // Essays on conservatism: ISEPR Foundation Almanac: 2 (2): Forum «Berdyaev readings», May 16th 2014 reports and essays. М.: Noncommercial foundation - Institute of socio-economic and political researches (ISEPR Foundation). Pp. 19-61. Hereafter no more links to the source given in the Foreword.

[5] A. Y. Zudin. Essays on ideology of development // Essays on conservatism. №2 (2), 2014. p. 10.

[6] ibid.

[7] Modern conservatism in the West // Essays on conservatism: №2 (2), 2014. p. 54.

[8] Molodyakov V.E. Historic memory of the Japanese //Japan: light and shadows. M., 2008. p.210.

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