Yukio Hatoyama (next prime minister of Japan and writer of the article
below) is a son of the Japan elite, earns millions just being a
shareholder from his family's empire (Bridgestone tyres) yet he seems
to be seeing something new (obvious to many of us working on this
forever, but mostly fiercely fought against by his class, and - to my
knowledge - never so openly spoken by any high level politician).
A New Path for Japan
By YUKIO HATOYAMA
Published: August 26, 2009
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 "liberte, egalite,fraternite" as a force for
moderating the danger inherent within freedom.
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 American) standards.
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
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
If we 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
In 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 globalism.
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 wealth
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
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 currency.
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.
Current developments 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 future.
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?
This 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
As 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
Establishing a common Asian currency will likely take more than 10
years. For such a single currency to bring about political integration
will surely take longer still.
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.
Therefore, 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.
I believe 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."
-- A longer version of this article appears in the September issue of the monthly
Japanese journal Voice.
Global Viewpoint/Tribune Media Services