A New Path for Japan
TOKYO — In the post-Cold War period, Japan has been
continually buffeted by the winds of market fundamentalism in a
U.S.-led movement that is more usually called globalization. In the
fundamentalist pursuit of capitalism people are treated not as an end
but as a means. Consequently, human dignity is lost.
How can we put an end to unrestrained market fundamentalism and
financial capitalism, that are void of morals or moderation, in order
to protect the finances and livelihoods of our citizens? That is the
issue we are now facing.
In these times, we must return to the
idea of fraternity — as in the French slogan “liberté, égalité,
fraternité” — as a force for moderating the danger inherent within
Fraternity as I mean it can be described as a
principle that aims to adjust to the excesses of the current globalized
brand of capitalism and accommodate the local economic practices that
have been fostered through our traditions.
The recent economic
crisis resulted from a way of thinking based on the idea that
American-style free-market economics represents a universal and ideal
economic order, and that all countries should modify the traditions and
regulations governing their economies in line with global (or rather
In Japan, opinion was divided on how far the
trend toward globalization should go. Some advocated the active embrace
of globalism and leaving everything up to the dictates of the market.
Others favored a more reticent approach, believing that efforts should
be made to expand the social safety net and protect our traditional
economic activities. Since the administration of Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi (2001-2006), the Liberal Democratic Party has
stressed the former, while we in the Democratic Party of Japan have
tended toward the latter position.
The economic order in any
country is built up over long years and reflects the influence of
traditions, habits and national lifestyles. But globalism has
progressed without any regard for non-economic values, or for
environmental issues or problems of resource restriction.
look back on the changes in Japanese society since the end of the Cold
War, I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the global economy has
damaged traditional economic activities and destroyed local communities.
terms of market theory, people are simply personnel expenses. But in
the real world people support the fabric of the local community and are
the physical embodiment of its lifestyle, traditions and culture. An
individual gains respect as a person by acquiring a job and a role
within the local community and being able to maintain his family’s
Under the principle of fraternity, we would not
implement policies that leave areas relating to human lives and safety
— such as agriculture, the environment and medicine — to the mercy of
Our responsibility as politicians is to refocus our
attention on those non-economic values that have been thrown aside by
the march of globalism. We must work on policies that regenerate the
ties that bring people together, that take greater account of nature
and the environment, that rebuild welfare and medical systems, that
provide better education and child-rearing support, and that address
Another national goal that emerges from the
concept of fraternity is the creation of an East Asian community. Of
course, the Japan-U.S. security pact will continue to be the
cornerstone of Japanese diplomatic policy.
But at the same
time, we must not forget our identity as a nation located in Asia. I
believe that the East Asian region, which is showing increasing
vitality, must be recognized as Japan’s basic sphere of being. So we
must continue to build frameworks for stable economic cooperation and
security across the region.
The financial crisis has suggested to
many that the era of U.S. unilateralism may come to an end. It has also
raised doubts about the permanence of the dollar as the key global
I also feel that as a result of the failure of the Iraq
war and the financial crisis, the era of U.S.-led globalism is coming
to an end and that we are moving toward an era of multipolarity. But at
present no one country is ready to replace the United States as the
dominant country. Nor is there a currency ready to replace the dollar
as the world’s key currency. Although the influence of the U.S. is
declining, it will remain the world’s leading military and economic
power for the next two to three decades.
show clearly that China will become one of the world’s leading economic
nations while also continuing to expand its military power. The size of
China’s economy will surpass that of Japan in the not-too-distant
How should Japan maintain its political and economic
independence and protect its national interest when caught between the
United States, which is fighting to retain its position as the world’s
dominant power, and China, which is seeking ways to become dominant?
is a question of concern not only to Japan but also to the small and
medium-sized nations in Asia. They want the military power of the U.S.
to function effectively for the stability of the region but want to
restrain U.S. political and economic excesses. They also want to reduce
the military threat posed by our neighbor China while ensuring that
China’s expanding economy develops in an orderly fashion. These are
major factors accelerating regional integration.
Today, as the
supranational political and economic philosophies of Marxism and
globalism have, for better or for worse, stagnated, nationalism is once
again starting to have a major influence in various countries.
we seek to build new structures for international cooperation, we must
overcome excessive nationalism and go down a path toward rule-based
economic cooperation and security.
Unlike Europe, the countries
of this region differ in size, development stage and political system,
so economic integration cannot be achieved over the short term.
However, we should nonetheless aspire to move toward regional currency
integration as a natural extension of the rapid economic growth begun
by Japan, followed by South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong, and then
achieved by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and
China. We must spare no effort to build the permanent security
frameworks essential to underpinning currency integration.
a common Asian currency will likely take more than 10 years. For such a
single currency to bring about political integration will surely take
ASEAN, Japan, China (including Hong Kong), South
Korea and Taiwan now account for one quarter of the world’s gross
domestic product. The economic power of the East Asian region and the
interdependent relationships within the region have grown wider and
deeper. So the structures required for the formation of a regional
economic bloc are already in place.
On the other hand, due to
historical and cultural conflicts as well as conflicting national
security interests, we must recognize that there are numerous difficult
political issues. The problems of increased militarization and
territorial disputes cannot be resolved by bilateral negotiations
between, for example, Japan and South Korea, or Japan and China. The
more these problems are discussed bilaterally, the greater the risk
that emotions become inflamed and nationalism intensified.
I would suggest, somewhat paradoxically, that the issues that stand in
the way of regional integration can only be truly resolved by moving
toward greater integration. The experience of the E.U. shows us how
regional integration can defuse territorial disputes.
that regional integration and collective security is the path we should
follow toward realizing the principles of pacifism and multilateral
cooperation advocated by the Japanese Constitution. It is also the
appropriate path for protecting Japan’s political and economic
independence and pursuing our interests in our position between the
United States and China.
Let me conclude by quoting the words of
Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, founder of the first popular movement for a
united Europe, written 85 years ago in “Pan-Europa” (my grandfather,
Ichiro Hatoyama, translated his book, “The Totalitarian State Against
Man,” into Japanese): “All great historical ideas started as a utopian
dream and ended with reality. Whether a particular idea remains as a
utopian dream or becomes a reality depends on the number of people who
believe in the ideal and their ability to act upon it.”
Hatoyama heads the Democratic Party of Japan, and would become prime
minister should the party win in Sunday’s elections. A longer version
of this article appears in the September issue of the monthly Japanese