Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

The Impact of the "Trump Era" and the Outlook for the Future
KAWATO Akio / Former Ambassador to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

January 8, 2021
The Trump Era will soon be over. Looking back on the last 4 years, everyone shudders at the depth of the social rift and the darkness of the bad karma such as hatred. This shows that the values of "modern" democracy and its apparatus may no longer be effective.

President Trump, like someone pulled from the time of Al Capone, made enemies of Mexico and China with underhanded accusations. Each point he made was cheered by the less well-off white population. Completely ignoring the principles of "liberal democracy", he pulled the world back into the Middle Ages with the Law of the Jungle where "might makes right". Born out of the Industrial Revolution, the liberal democracy of modern Western Europe, where a wide range of the middle-class gained the right to vote, and thus enjoyed political rights and a reasonable standard of living, is losing significance. US manufacturing has moved to China, which in its turn does not adhere to the modern values.

And the "Trump Era" comes at the dividing point when the United States transforms from a Caucasian-dominated society to a multi-ethnic nation. The nation-states that characterized modern Western Europe along with liberal democracy are now threatened with extinction even in Europe itself.

The United States today has no choice but to tackle the increased disparities caused by the loss of manufacturing and the movement towards a multi-ethnic society, which are certain to lead to fierce domestic conflicts. But the Republican Party only advances the causes of the rich, and the Democratic Party only loftily preaches human rights and democracy; this barren dichotomy saves neither the United States nor the world.

Japan usually has a hard time when the Democratic Party of US is in power. This is because many Democratic supporters are busy making ends meet and can’t afford to care much about their allies. However, Biden's victory in this election should have a different effect. Biden realizes the importance of allies, including Japan.

Nevertheless, Japan will enter into negotiations to renew the agreement on the so-called "sympathy budget" (Cost Sharing for the US Forces stationed in Japan), and the issue of the second free trade agreement with the United States may also surface. I hope that Japan will think well in advance about mutually favorable outcomes, without letting the United States take unilateral lead, and engage in vigorous and determined negotiations.

With Biden's victory, the "modern era" survives a little longer. However, the "modern era" will end sooner or later; the US, the only country that can sustain the “modern era” on a global scale, would not be able to do so forever. Japan must plan for its desired future and its ideal society on its own, and work to realize those plans peacefully.

We Japanese have depended heavily on the United States for both security and the economy during the 75 years since the war, and we have been concerned about "feeding ourselves" in that small framework. However, the Japanese must develop a new framework and even challenge ourselves to "feed others". However, this is easier said than done. Looking at the current situation in political, financial, government, academic and media circles, we have to say that the outlook is bleak.

Trump's fiscal-monetary policy, which verges on incontinence, may well lead to a financial catastrophe. Even while promoting tax cuts for the wealthy, President Trump expanded the budget deficit with generous defense spending and monetary easing to boost stock prices. These policies will probably result in a large amount of uncollectible debt and cause a new financial crisis.

When this happens, will the world's economic hegemony shift to China? No, I don't think so. This is because the Chinese economy depends heavily on the market, capital, and technology of the United States. So, if a financial crisis occurs in the United States, the whole world will fall into a temporary state of death and then...?

Perhaps we should buy some gold and stay home quietly. Play safe as Covid-19 is on the rise again?

Akio Kawato is a Columnist at Newsweek Japan. This article appeared in the November 17 edition of Newsweek Japan.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

河東 哲夫 / 元駐ウズベキスタン・タジキスタン大使

2021年 1月 8日
トランプ時代も、もう終わり。 この4年をつくづくと見直すならば、それが示す裂け目の深さ、人間の業の暗さに誰しも身震いする。それは、「近代」の民主主義の価値観、そして諸装置がもう利かなくなっていることを示しているからだ。

アルカポネの時代から抜け出てきたようなトランプが、メキシコや中国を敵に仕立てて反則攻撃。ポイントを挙げては、困窮白人層の喝さいを取る。「自由・民主主義」など一顧もすることなく、むき出しの力の勝負、ジャングルの掟の中世に、世界を引き 戻したのだ。「産業革命で生まれた広汎な中産階級が投票権を得ることで、皆が権利を享受しながらまともな生活水準を享受する」という、近代西欧の自由・民主主義は居場所を失う。米国の産業が移転した先の中国も、近代の価値観を背負うことはしない。





バイデンの勝利で、「近代」は少し延命される。しかし遅かれ早かれ、その終焉の 時はくる。米国に代わって「近代」を背負うことのできる国はない。日本は自分で、自分の望ましい将来像、社会の在り方を思い定め、それを平和裏に実現していかなければならない。



その時、世界の経済覇権は中国に移る? いやそれはない。中国経済は販路、資本、技術、どれをとっても、実は米国に大きく依存しているからだ。だから米国で金融危機が起こったら、世界全体が仮死状態に陥って、その後は――? 


筆者は日本版Newsweekコラムニスト。本稿は日本版Newsweek 2020年11月17日号に掲載された。
一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > The Impact of the "Trump Era" and the Outlook for the Future