Autori: Giulio Pugliese, Sebastian Maslow
In: Asia Maior. XXX / 2019

2019 ushered in a new era for Japan. The Cabinet framed the Reiwa era through a committee of experts responsible for its christening. The name was chosen with reference to a well-known medieval text of Japanese poetry, rather than ancient Chinese literature, a notable first. But did the imperial succession and the start of Reiwa actually reflect the dawn of a new era in Japanese domestic and international politics? By taking stock of primary sources, including a substantial number of interviews with scholars and policy-makers in Japan, Washington DC and elsewhere, this article suggests that the dawn of the Reiwa era appears to be characterised by a return to the conservative camp’s grip on domestic politics, suspiciously similar to Japan’s old way of doing politics. Yet, a stable prime ministerial executive, which is front and centre of the decision-making machine, has allowed for considerable change in Japan’s diplomatic and security policies. This has taken place during heightened US-China strategic competition and greater volatility in the international system. Aside from an ongoing (in fact, deepening) US-Japan entente vis-à-vis China, the year under review testifies to new developments in Japan’s international relations. Particularly worth noting are Japan’s acquisition of offensive capabilities, its expanding strategic horizons, its careful balancing act in the Middle East, and its rounder engagement with economic statecraft. These events provide a testament to important developments in Japan’s standing in world politics and to Abe’s legacy.

Giulio Pugliese | King’s College London |

Sebastian Maslow | Sendai Shirayuri Women’s University |