Swept into the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party as a second place finisher and elected prime minister in a constitutionally suspect election where millions of voters abstained in disgust, Abe Shinzo starts his second term on what would seem unstable and unforgiving terms. With a risk-taking economic growth plan and a social agenda out of step with the values of many Japanese, Abe is throwing away the rule book on the role a highly indebted government can play in leading an aging and cautious population.
Despite the adverse circumstances, Abe Shinzo seems to be doing well in his early weeks in office, with high poll ratings and significant support from the political, business and media establishments. He looks on course to lead his party to victory in the summer House of Councillors election and break the cycle of an annual rotation of prime ministers.
How stable is the Abe administration and program? What are the issues that can derail its progression? What changes should we expect after the House of Councillors election?
ICAS Adjunct Fellow, Adjunct Professor at Waseda University and at Temple University Japan Campus (starting Spring 2016)
Michael Cucek is an analyst and author who had spent half a lifetime looking at Japan and the Japanese. An alumnus of Stanford University with graduate studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Columbia University, he has lived in Tokyo since 1994. An employee of a boutique research institute for 15 years, he now serves the diplomatic and financial communities as an independent consultant on Japanese politics and government policy. He is Adjunct Professor of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Waseda University, teaching political science and international relations. He was Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts at Sophia University in Spring 2015, teaching courses in globalization and political leadership. In Spring 2016 he will be teaching Japan and a Changing World Order at Temple University Japan Campus and Introduction to International Politics in Fall 2016. He is the author of the blog Shisaku: Marginalia on Japanese Politics and Society (http://shisaku.