Interviewed by Manabu Shimada
Question: What developments do you think will arise in the international order?
Amari: I am afraid that China may narrow the gap with the U.S. after the COVID-19 pandemic, and the U.S.-led international order may fall into a state of chaos. If that happens, China would no longer be held in check by another power. China has already started acting recklessly, confident that it will be the leading power in the post-pandemic world.
World leaders come and go. This is the way of world history. I believe that a new “Pax” should be built out of globally shared values, such as democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. We should never allow a totally different value, such as state-monitored capitalism, to be the global standard. We need to build solidarity among Japan, the U.S., and other nations that share the same values.
Instead of trying to drive China into a corner, it is important that we draw China into sharing the same global values. In the economic sphere, we should lead them into participating in fair international competition.
Q: It appears that the concept of “freedom” has become more relative recently, as seen in calls for limiting private rights.
Amari: Freedom is not self-indulgence. Freedom means that we are free to build a society that respects our freedom. Self-indulgence simply seeks laissez-faire policies.
We seek a disciplined freedom. Setting limits on individual rights must be done in accordance with legislation enacted based on the understanding and approval of the public. Some say that Japan should restrict some private rights, but doing so through government power without a legal basis would be a violation of the rule of law.
China says it operates under the rule of law as well, but the Chinese version is only a rule of law that benefits politicians and the government. The aim of such unilateral legislation is merely to justify government instructions and ordinances.
Q: Has the pandemic brought about unalterable changes?
Amari: Once a society is digitalized, all movements and transactions are available in data form. The government is called to implement policies based on accurate data. Moreover, the government and politicians must give thorough explanations of policies to the public, so that people can make informed decisions.
Profile: Akira Amari, 71, has been chairman of the LDP Tax System Research Council since September 2019. He advises the government on economic security. Previously, Amari served as Minister in charge of Economic Revitalization and then as Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy.