Following his Cabinet reshuffle on Aug. 3, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated that his priority was on the economy, and that "while 'Abenomics' has brought Japan this far, the effects have not been sufficient, and there is still much that must be done."
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It's the same claim that he's made repeatedly since taking over the government in December 2012, when he called for Japan to break away from deflation.
Having begun with the "three arrows" of Abenomics, a new set of "three arrows" was launched in the fall of 2015: a strong economy that creates hope, child-rearing support that passes dreams down generations, and social security that allows for peace of mind.
Shortly thereafter, the Abe administration set a new policy goal of "promoting the dynamic engagement of all citizens," making reforms in the way people work a major theme in last summer's Cabinet reshuffle. This is in addition to the administration's policy goals of "women's empowerment" and "regional revitalization" that have continued since the fall of 2014.
Abe has come up with such slogans one after another, constantly claiming that Japan was "on its way" in order to buy time for over four and a half years. Specific measures have been implemented in accordance with the slogans, but there is no evidence that the effects of those measures has been reviewed and confirmed.
Now, the Abe administration has set another goal of "a revolution in human resources development."
The goal, Abe says, is to create a society in which all children can work hard toward their dreams, a society in which anyone at any age can learn and take up a challenge, a society in which we expect to live 100 years.
We have no objections to Abe's purported vision for the future. However, most people seem resigned to the fact that slogans will grow old fast, and will simply be replaced by new ones. Amid such public sentiment, slogans and policies, no matter how attractive they may sound at first, will fail to grow roots among the people and produce results.
In the time since Abe rose to power again in 2012, a lot of taxpayers' money has been allocated to realizing the slogans he has promoted, because the new slogans had to be funded amid the "on-the-way" state in which the effects of the other measures are yet to be seen. The administration turned a blind eye to the need for fiscal discipline.
At the end of 2012, the government was 997 trillion yen in debt. As of late March, 2017, the government's debt had grown to 1.071 quadrillion yen-- this is despite having raised the consumption tax from 5 percent to 8 percent in 2014.
Who is ultimately going to have to pay for this? Is it the future generation, who are the No. 1 target for "a revolution in human resources development?" What kind of dream does that huge tab leave the younger generation with?
As long as the administration continues on this road, consumption cannot be expected to increase, and people will naturally remain wary of marriage and having children.
If the government doesn't make some fundamental changes now, when will it ever have the chance to do so?