This nation must be saved from drowning in the sea of deflation, a challenge essential for putting its economy onto an upward trend.
Doing so will definitely require success in achieving the targets set in Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's economic policy line, known as Abenomics, through efforts to ensure his administration is kept running even more stably.
With this in mind, the government should place priority on economic growth over fiscal reconstruction for the time being, a task necessary to revitalize the economy and increase tax revenue.
This must be accompanied by efforts to disburse financial resources in such fields as pensions, medical and other forms of social security, along with national security, crisis management and energy. Success in that endeavor is indispensable for boosting Japan's national strength from the mid- and long-term standpoints.
In promoting good external relations, the government needs to ensure stability in the Asia-Pacific region. China has been escalating its high-handed behavior in the East China Sea and in the sky above the area in recent months. Few eyebrows would be raised if an accidental conflict erupted between Japan and China at any time. This situation will likely continue for the foreseeable future.
Perceived military tensions in this region must be relaxed through repeated dialogue between Japanese and Chinese diplomatic and defense authorities, coupled with efforts to improve the functions of the Japan-US alliance.
The economy and China will likely be the two major focuses of government policy this year. Failure to squarely confront the two tasks-one domestic, the other external-will render useless any attempt by Japan to start rising to prominence, economically or otherwise.
Crunch time for Abenomics
One year has passed since Abe inaugurated his second Cabinet. The prime minister was at the forefront of his ruling coalition's victory in the House of Councillors election last summer, a triumph that sealed an end to the divided Diet. This has enabled the Liberal Democratic Party to emerge as the sole dominant power in the political arena, reducing all other parties to lesser forces.
His Cabinet has consistently enjoyed a high popular support rating. Despite a drop in the rating due to turmoil arising from the enactment of the state secrets protection law during an extraordinary Diet session last year, the figure still stands in the 50 percent range. This should be solely attributed to Abe's focused efforts on economic recovery, a task that comes first in the list of his policy priorities.