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POLITICS

Amari talks about Abe, ‘post-Abe’ candidates, promotion of innovation

  • February 9, 2018
  • , Sankei , p. 5
  • JMH Translation

Two years ago, I stepped down as minister in charge of economic revitalization following the bribery scandal involving my secretary. I had to do it because I had responsibility for supervising him. I believe I made the right decision and took the right action. After my resignation, I received a lot of letters of encouragement, which said that “your departure is a loss to the nation.” I was relieved by these words and assured that what I had done was not wrong. At the same time, they gave me the courage to hang in there as long as they support me.

 

I will support Prime Minister (and Liberal Democratic Party President) Shinzo Abe’s re-election for a third term in the LDP presidential election, which will be held in September this year. Because if the control tower is changed now before various reforms are completed, what the government has done thus far would come to naught. It would be good for someone to take the place of Mr. Abe only after his Abenomics economic stimulus has brought deflation to an end with a mechanism that can constantly spawn innovations. Mr. Abe must convince the LDP and party members that it is indispensable for Japan to have a stable government over a long period of time.   

 

Among the ‘post-Abe’ candidates are former LDP secretary-general Shigeru Ishiba, Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Seiko Noda and LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida. They’re likely candidates, indeed. But this does not necessarily mean that they will be picked as Abe’s successor. The ‘post-Abe’ candidates must have a firm resolve to lead Japan and show what they want to do.

 

LDP Chief Deputy Secretary-General Shinjiro Koizumi will undoubtedly become one of the leading candidates for prime minister in the future. People would say, “After all, the LDP has Shinjiro.” That’s his presence. I often suggest he learn about geopolitics.

 

I am impressed that Mr. Abe views foreign relations and national security from a geopolitical standpoint. What makes China advance into the south? Why does Russia want to advance into the Crimea? Geopolitics offers answers to the behaviors of policymakers in various countries. History repeats because policymakers behave in various ways based on geopolitical situations. That is the history of warfare.

 

How to handle unprecedented situations we encounter is a yardstick to gauge politicians’ true value. To deal with unpredictable events properly, politicians must have a discerning eye for history and geopolitics and have a good sense of the times. They won’t be able to act properly if they lack in the backbone thinking. I think Shinjiro is now working to build up his backbone thinking and grow the unwavering spirit.

 

Japan cannot become a military power. So to demonstrate its leadership on the diplomatic front, it must continue to be an economic power. I believe the reform of universities will become a policy of higher priority and help drive the Japanese economy. We must turn universities into an intellectual industry for Japan. What universities at the top of the “global ranking of universities” have in common is that their presidents have a better sense of business management and invest greater amounts of money in basic research than in the case of Japanese schools.

 

We must create a cycle of finding additional value in research results universities produced, constantly spawning innovations in partnership with industry and investing money raised from those innovations into basic research again. As long as the outdated thinking that “business may tarnish the sacred image of academia” prevails, Japan’s basic research capability will swiftly fall to the ground. To leverage Japan’s basic research capability, the government allocated 4 billion yen to promote the management reform of state-run universities in the budget plan for fiscal 2018.

 

We need to consolidate the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation and various similar entities within the government into one so it can serve as the control tower. The LDP’s administrative reform promotion headquarters, which I lead, will discuss the consolidation of functions that oversee science and technology with those that oversee innovations. We’d like to submit a proposal to the government before June.  

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