Kato Tells Straits Times Yokohama Result “Reaffirms” LDP Doubts about Suga
While many LDP leaders have declared their support for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in the upcoming party presidential election, there are lingering doubts about how hard they are “committed to their words,” Research Director Sota Kato told the Straits Times.
“The loss of the Yokohama mayoral election alone may not impact his destiny,” Kato said about the setback on August 22, “but since the LDP has lost virtually all elections recently, it will reaffirm LDP backbenchers’ belief that they cannot win with Suga as a leader.”
“Yokohama Picks Opposition Candidate over Suga’s Ally for Mayor,” Straits Times
Suga “Relying on Optimistic Scenarios” in Extending State of Emergency, Kato Says
Research Director Sota Kato told the Straits Times that the two-week extension of the COVID-19 state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was a last-ditch attempt to avoid going into the LDP presidential vote in late September with a weak mandate.
“The Suga Cabinet has been relying on optimistic scenarios rather than preparing for the worst in its crisis management,” Kato said in the Straits Times article.
“Time and again, reality has failed to live up to its expectations and as a result, it appears reactive in taking actions after the fact. This is one reason why Suga appears to have lost the trust of the people.”
“Japan PM Suga Has Eye on Politics with Two-Week Covid-19 Emergency Extension,” Straits Times
Japan Will Benefit from G7 Tax Reform Deal, Research Fellow Oka Says
The G7 nations have reached agreement on global tax reforms to make international tax rules more equitable and prevent multinational corporations from evading their fair share.
They will seek to introduce a global minimum corporate tax rate of at least 15% to stop countries from “racing to the bottom” in undercutting the rates of other governments. They also hope to get global corporations to pay more tax wherever they generate revenue to prevent tech giants from exploiting tax loopholes.
In an article on the NHK World website, Research Fellow Naoki Oka points out that Japanese corporations are set to benefit from the proposed new rules because they would ensure a level playing field for all multinationals.
“G7 Moves Forward with Plan for Global Tax Reform,” NHK World
Amendment to Make Real Property Registration Mandatory “Significant,” Yoshihara Says in Nikkei Asia Article
In the wake of Japan’s asset bubble collapse in the 1990s and the shrinking of its population since 2010, the country’s voluntary property registration system has generated vast swaths of unclaimed land, as the expense and time needed to transfer the title of an inherited property became too much of a hassle for many.
In an article in Nikkei Asia, Research Fellow Shoko Yoshihara called the recent amendment of the Real Property Registration Act “significant,” as it makes inheritance registration mandatory.
“In Japan there has been no strict system to foster inheritance registration, which led to the current problem of land registrations remaining in the name of the deceased for a long period of time,” said Yoshihara, the author of the 2017 book, Land Issues in the Era of Depopulation.
The government must work quickly, though, she added, “to make people aware of the new systems”—a major challenge given the disappearance of many rural governments over the last 20 years as villages with dwindling populations have merged with nearby larger towns.
“As Japan’s Empty Homes Multiply, Its Laws Are Slowly Catching Up,” Nikkei Asia
Kato Tells Straits Times that Abe May Seek a Comeback
The heightened visibility of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has recently appeared in a number of media interviews, has raised speculations that he is seeking another run for the premiership.
An article in the Straits Times quotes Research Director Sota Kato as saying, “Naturally, Abe will have a desire to come back. He quit suddenly and failed to leave (a constitutional revision) legacy he has been so obsessed about.”
Current Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is staking his political fortunes on speeding up Japan’s vaccination drive and successfully hosting the Tokyo Games. But this could be akin to a “lovers’ suicide,” Kato said, “if things go wrong and a much-feared ‘Olympic variant’ or fifth Covid-19 wave were to emerge.”
“Is a Premier Comeback on the Cards for Shinzo Abe?” Straits Times
US Sanctions Slow Huawei’s Rise, Ke Long Says
Chinese tech giant Huawei posted considerably slower revenue growth in 2020, due largely to stiffer US sanctions. Interviewed on NHK World, Senior Fellow Ke Long noted that with pressure from Washington increasing under the Joe Biden administration, Huawei may have to shift its focus to selling low- and middle-end products to developing markets.
China’s recent surge in patent filings, he added, is not a sign that the country has surpassed the United States as a global tech leader. The source of US innovation is diversity, he said, something that China is not embracing.
“Huawei Growth Slows as US Sanctions Take Toll,” NHK World
Latest Suga Scandal Likely Not “Fatal,” Sota Kato Tells Straits Times
Although a “wine-and-dine” scandal involving Yoshihide Suga’s eldest son has led to the resignation of the prime minister’s public relations secretary, the controversy is unlikely to prove fatal for the administration, Research Director Sota Kato told the Straits Times.
“Issues with the bureaucracy have been occurring one after another since the previous Abe administration,” Kato noted, “and people have become accustomed to this.”
Suga’s style of ignoring crises until “the public anger heightens,” though, does not instill confidence, as revealed by recent opinion polls showing him ranked fifth in the public’s choice for their next leader.
“As Public Loses Confidence in Suga, New Scandal Claims Biggest Scalp,” Straits Times
“Divine Winds” Needed for Suga to Stay in Power, Sota Kato Says
In a Straits Times article about Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s plummeting popularity, Research Director Sota Kato noted that the chances of “him still being prime minister at the end of 2021 is quite bleak.”
“Divine winds” (kamikaze) will be needed to blow on two fronts, Kato commented. “First . . . the economy makes a V-shaped recovery” thanks to COVID-19 vaccines, and “Second, the Olympics can be successfully held, causing a feel-good effect.”
“The public came to see Mr. Suga as a prime minister who is unable to take the initiative,” Kato added. “He needs to be more accountable, and to pray for the divine winds to blow.”
“Will Suga Still Be Japan’s PM at End of the Year?” Straits Times
China Must Work with New US Administration or Face Domestic Instability, Ke Tells NHK World
In an interview with NHK World, Senior Fellow Ke Long cautions that China will face serious economic problems if it does not make major concessions and work closely with the incoming Joe Biden administration in Washington.
“If there is further decoupling of the US and Chinese economies, we could see supply chains being reorganized and moved out of China,” Ke said.
“If multinationals leave the country, this will not only hinder the ability of Chinese companies to catch up technologically but also result in the loss of jobs, potentially leading to social instability.”
“New US Leadership Faces Unpredictable China,” NHK World
Controversy Points to Suga’s Aim to End Outdated Practices, Sota Kato Tells Straits Times
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s rejection of six candidates for the Japan Science Council has triggered charges that the new administration is curtailing academic freedom. All six were critical of government policy when Suga was the chief cabinet minister.
But the move could signal Suga’s resolve to undo outdated practices, Research Director Sota Kato told the Straits Times. The prime minister’s “awareness for reforms is quite strong,” Kato said. “He has the know-how and personal connections to eliminate resistance from businesses or other groups with vested interests.”
“Controversy hits Suga, just 2½ weeks into tenure as PM,” Straits Times