Kishida and his anti-Russia stance are creating major energy headwinds
Kanako Mita, Sawako Utsumi, and Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan understands that the political opposition is perenially weak decade after decade. This lack of political accountability entails that his anti-Russia rhetoric – and joining the European Union (EU) and G7 group in sanctioning the Russian Federation – wasn’t challenged substantially by political opposition forces. Therefore, Kishida is creating self-induced energy problems and putting further strains on the enormous mountain of debt by seeking to double the military expenditure.
Kishida can’t claim any moral high ground. Similar to all EU and G7 nations. After all, where were international sanctions when America involved itself in dropping Agent Orange on Vietnam to countless bombing campaigns (Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, and too many to mention) – and supporting right-wing death squads in South America to utilize proxies in the war in Syria. Likewise, the same G7 nations openly support nations including Indonesia (mass oppression in West Papua and demographic changes against the indigenous) and NATO Turkey (occupies North Cyprus and North Syria – while also killing Kurds and Yazidis in North Iraq). Hence, sanctions against the Russian Federation are extremely biased and based on America’s geopolitical concerns: irrespective of whether people support or oppose the Russian Federation sending in military forces to support Russians and non-ethnic Russian speakers in the Donbass (Donbas) region.
ENERGY AND YEN
It seems that Kishida is more obsessed with swanky international meetings where he parrots his anti-China and anti-Russia rhetoric that fits the agenda of America while also tapping into internal nationalism. However, his administration faces a major slump in the yen – while also facing an exacerbated energy crisis along with the natural economic convulsions that follow.
Approximately 90 percent of all Japan’s energy is imported. Also, this is mainly priced in the currency of America. Hence, with coal, gas, and oil prices increasing before the dramatic fall in the yen (against the US dollar), the collective economic and energy pressures are leading to severe headwinds. Therefore, while China, India, and others are buying energy at discounted rates from the Russian Federation, the opposite problems are engulfing Japan.
The Economist Intelligence Unit reports, “The Japanese yen has been one of the hardest-hit major currencies in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Its sharp depreciation against the US dollar is derived from a combination of Japan’s relatively weak economic fundamentals and a high degree of reliance on energy and food imports.“
Kishida openly supports EU and G7 sanctions against the Russian Federation. The former leader Shinzo Abe took a mild approach to the Russian Federation concerning the Crimea crisis. Hence, Kishida’s comments – while leading to a higher geopolitical profile on the international stage and boosting his hopes of doubling the military expenditure and annulling aspects of the constitution that contains the armed forces – are leading to increasing regional tensions and economic convulsions for Japanese businesses.
The nuclear angle to Japan’s energy merely highlights the slowness of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. It is now over a decade since the Fukushima nuclear disaster. However, in this timescale, the majority of nuclear reactors remain offline. Alas, renewable energy only provides for roughly 9% of Japan’s primary energy (2019 data). Therefore, the anti-Russia sanctions are adding fuel to the fire concerning the self-induced blowback related to Kishida’s policies.
Japanese citizens have witnessed three squandered economic decades – mainly under the rule of the Liberal Democratic Party. Following on from this are over two decades of static wages, the increasing number of temporary workers with few rights, a reduction in perks (bonuses are down for many) – along with consumption tax from zero to ten percent – that are collectively hitting people hard concerning static wages and the reduction of working rights. Therefore, with rising costs related to energy, foodstuffs, and raw materials that are spooking many companies: the Kishida admin is merely putting fuel on the fire by following the EU and G7 in sanctioning the Russian Federation.
Modern Tokyo Times recently said, “Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan continues to enjoy his foreign trips to incite against China and the Russian Federation. However, in Japan, people are disturbed by price increases on foodstuffs, the deteriorating yen against the dollar, the spurting economy, static wages, the mountain of debt, the low birth rate, pension worries, and other important areas.”
Kishida’s saving political grace is that the opposition is weak and divided. After all, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party dominates politics in Japan bar the odd minor hiccup decade after decade. However, where is saving grace for people who reside in Japan?
Three squandered economic decades led to the highest ratio of debt in the world: however – not content with fixing economic problems that beset Japan – the Kishida administration is now on a geopolitical adventure and inciting against China and the Russian Federation while seeking to double the military expenditure.
Only petty nationalism is left for the current Kishida administration at this given time. Hopefully, wiser voices will emerge – however, when political families dominate politics in Japan, the omens of more malaise and disconnection with ordinary people are on the cards.
The energy crisis in Japan sums up much about the ruling party.
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