Yoshihide Suga will step down after the Tokyo Olympics. Why are Japanese prime ministers unable to escape the "Olympic curse"?
2021-09-15: [Original Article Link].
[Global Times Comprehensive Report] Soon after the Tokyo Olympics, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will step down as Prime Minister within this month. In Japan, there has been a saying that "the five rings rise and the prime minister steps down. As the Washington Post reporter Adam Taylor described, the Japanese Prime Minister and the Olympic Games "have a long and amazing history of failure".
In 1964, Japan, which rose from the ruins of World War II, announced its revival with the Tokyo Summer Olympics, but Prime Minister Yoren Ikeda, who presided over the ceremony, was full of "bitterness.
Ikeda took office in 1960. Before that, Japan relied on the Korean War as a "military station" to grab the "first pot of gold" for economic reconstruction, but the main benefits fell into the hands of monopoly capital, severe polarization has sent the seemingly prosperous Japan to the "crater". The moment Ikeda's cabinet won the right to host the 1964 Olympic Games, it was more about how to solve two major tasks: one is to quell the Japanese's rising anti-American anti-monopoly capital movement; the second is to establish a "peaceful image" for Japan while following the United States and look for overseas markets.
In December 1960, Ikeda launched the "National Economic Doubling Plan", which took ten years to double the national economic aggregate and per capita national real income. The risk of the plan is how to make the economy "outperform" inflation with high growth. Under the New Deal, Japan's exports have achieved a leap, coupled with the Tokyo Olympic Games infrastructure to accelerate the process of urbanization, Japan's average annual economic growth reached 10%.
However, the Japanese political arena is sinister, and the factional struggle has exhausted Ikeda, and the United States has also used Japan. Since 1961, it has made a heavy blow to Japan's number one export commodity, using import restrictions to hit Japanese small and medium-sized textile enterprises. A year before the opening of the Olympic Games, Ikeda spent his main energy on the United States. The people around him recalled: "For three months, the Prime Minister only had two or three hours of sleep a day, he listened to the progress of Japan-US trade negotiations and to resolve the issue of US sanctions caused by Japanese freighters serving a socialist country. He once said: 'I yearn for joy, but I don't have time for joy, there is no time to weep! '"
This "abnormal" lasted until August 1964, when Ikeda, who felt unwell, was diagnosed with throat cancer. But he still attended the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games that year. On the day after the closing of the Olympic Games, Ikeda announced his resignation as president and prime minister of the ruling party. His message to his successor Eisaku Sato was: "A glass bridge is set in front of (politicians), whoever wants to cross over can be crushed with it."
The Japanese economy that Eisaku Sato took over seems to be still in the "Golden Decade" initiated by Ikeda. However, due to the end of the Tokyo Olympics, the infrastructure market was weak and corporate earnings stagnated. In 1965, Japan experienced a post-war economic depression. Sato's cabinet, contrary to the relatively conservative approach of its predecessor, used "deficit finance" to stimulate the economy and maintain prosperity, and the important performance of this policy is to obtain the right to host the 1972 Winter Olympics, as an opportunity, the Japanese government has increased the infrastructure construction of Hokkaido centered on Sapporo, opened the subway, and built trunk roads, which together constitute a symbol of the smooth development of the Japanese economy.
The war in the Middle East in 1967 led to the closure of the Suez Canal in Egypt, the trade between Japan and Europe seriously declined, while the United States suspected of having too much deficit with Japan, and unilaterally imposed 10% tariffs on imports of Japanese goods in 1971, and forced the appreciation of the yen, the fight against Japanese competitiveness. For a time, the Japanese economy was violently turbulent.
Sato's two major failures in 1971 turned the glory of the upcoming Winter Olympics into his own "political curtain call". On 15 October, the Sato government succumbed to the threat of the United States and signed the Japan-US Fiber Agreement to self-restrict all wool and man-made fiber products exported to the United States, this amounted to a betrayal of Japan 2 million fiber manufacturing workers actually saw their livelihoods, it completely drown out the Winter Olympics joy atmosphere. In July 1971, U.S. President Nixon stated that he was about to visit New China, but Sato was still superstitious that the United States would maintain the "two Chinas" policy, so at the instigation of the United States, lead the submission of a proposal containing "two Chinas" to the UN General Assembly. Unexpectedly, in the vote on October 25, the proposal was rejected, and the proposal of 23 countries to restore the legal seat of New China passed smoothly. The news came that Sato was suddenly stunned.
In fact, since the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the "Olympic effect" has become weaker and weaker in Japanese politics. The 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics became a nightmare for Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.
On February 7, 1998, the Nagano Winter Olympics in Japan opened. The then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said a meaningful sentence on the eve of his attendance: "I am sitting in the epicenter." This is a pun. It turned out that Nagano was in the Pacific Rim volcanic seismic zone and almost lost the election during the Olympic bid. The "earthquake" that Hashimoto called was his "financial explosion" plan. At the beginning of his coming to power, Hashimoto implemented the Financial System Reform Plan, announcing the lifting of a series of control measures in the stock market, foreign exchange and different financial business areas, so that financial enterprises can be separated from the government, to provide liquidity to SMEs. Because of the reform, it was described as a "financial explosion", because it touched the interests of the Japanese banking industry and even political party groups, and there was a lot of opposition.
The unsuccessful financial reforms, coupled with the Japanese economy that has never improved, finally let Hashimoto usher in a "political Waterloo". In May 1998, the Social Democratic Party and the Pioneer New Party, which were allied with the Liberal Democratic Party in the House of Representatives, announced their "break-up", which led to the LDP's loss of a majority in the House of Representatives. In the face of the party's call for a "replacement", Hashimoto was no longer able to return. In July of that year, he handed the scepter to Keizo Obuchi, who immediately froze the reforms of the Hashimoto period.
Note: This is auto-translated version of an article meant for Chinese audience. A mature and nuanced reading is suggested.