Kudo's Blog;How we evaluated the six months of Abe administration

July 11, 2013

We, the Genron NPO, evaluate the performance of the government in power to offer the voters comprehensive food for thought at the pre-election season. The Abe administration has scored relatively high at the average of 2.8 of 5. taking into account the score of the past administrations. We have selected the policy issues of high importance for the administration and carried out the analysis. Not only have we analyzed whether or not the government has embarked upon the pledged policy agenda, but also whether practical approach has been taken in realization of the policy agenda.

'Abenomics': aiming to yield results

On the policy agenda, 'Abenomics' has received the highest evaluation. The Abe administration has been focusing on the management of economic issues in the past six months.

'Abenomics' has certainly contributed towards the shift in the way that the market is viewed. Quantitative and qualitative easing and two per cent inflation target in two years was perceived unexpected. However, looking from the policy perspective, 'Abenomics can hardly be said to have succeeded. It has indeed attracted the foreign investors into a positive view of the Japanese economy, but it does not necessarily mean a persistent change in the expectations of the Japanese people for their own economy. Further, the Bank of Japan is retaining the portfolio balance by continuously purchasing the bond which the financial institutions used to be purchasing. This cycle, however, does not induce a flow of loans. Therefore it still remains questionable as to how much the swift Growth Strategy can be displayed after the House of Councillors election.

However, we cannot deny the fact that Mr. Abe has committed to achieving tangible results in the past six months. Since we first embarked upon the cabinet evaluation in 2007, no prime minister has so much emphasized such result-driven approach. Whilst we value this result-driven approach, we are concerned with the administration's hasty willingness to demonstrate achievements before the July election. The election has become the end in itself, therefore hindering the judgments about the significant issues that Japan is facing by stalling them till the end of the voting

Consequentially, Japanese intellectuals will face difficulties in deciding about the issues at hand. The government owes to the public a degree of explanation about their doings and this obligation is not deemed to be fulfilled.

What the Abe administration will face in post-election period

Abe's Growth Strategy itself was not much appreciated within the market and the second-phase Growth Strategy will be written and executed after the elections. On the topic of Finance, there still remains a need to tackle the issues arising as being pointed out by the institutions such as the G8. The government will essentially need to offer the public explanations as to how the financial issues are to be treated, but no visible guidance has been announced so far. Other areas such as Energy, Nuclear Energy, Social Security, and Low birth rate and Longevity are also suffering from nebulous policy direction. The people, therefore, are faced with a lack of explanation of the policy directions of the government.

Close examination of the manifesto reveals the past ideologies of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP). For instance, public projects are being launched under the context of National Resilience. On the topic of Agriculture, despite scorning the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)'s provision of individual income support allowance for farmer as a dole out policy, the LDP's direct payment policy may seem quite akin to the one of DPJ. Such topics as Political Reform, Devolution and Reform of Public Servant System do not seem to be driven by enthusiastic principles. This suggests, in other words, that the policy agenda of the political party as a whole is not yet fully elaborated to come to completion.

The 180 days of the Abe administration has focused on the economic agenda and this has engendered a significant movement. However the LDP as a political party is yet to display the overall direction of the various issues and so can be hardly said to be leading the politics that underlines the obligations to give explanations to the people.

Party manifestoes have been recently published but what can be read is a mere list of political policies. We are, then, left to evaluate whether the party is striving to offer solutions to the issues that Japan faces and whether scope of the policy agendas are adequately defined. And we are to offer this analysis to the public as a resource for their political judgment.