Japan's Rightwing Keynesians
  • These people are important. Their influence explains much of the change in Japan's economic climate since Abe became prime minister.

    They gained their start during the Koizumi era (2001-2007) as a small group concerned by the weakening of Japan's economy and the onset of deflation. They would organize meetings, prepare papers (some highly academic) and hold seminars to promote the policies they saw as needed to stimulate the economy.

    They have since formed themselves the Association for Japanese Economic Recovery (AJER), headed by professor Ono Seiji and advised by professor Shishido Shuntaro (former president of International University) . Their website can be found at http://www.tek.co.jp/p/thesis/ajer051re.html. The various graphs on the website aim seek to show how policies of fiscal stimulus can bring Japan back to growth without causing inflation. At various times they have claimed support for their fiscal expansionist policies from leading US economists such Lawrence Klein and Paul Samuelson.

    While concentrating on academic activity, the group also lobbies strongly to have its ideas accepted at the political level. Its right wing orientation lies in its calls to improve Japan's economic power as a basis for stronger military power. It claims the support of close to 100 politicians, mainly LDP, as komon (advisers), including such right wing conservatives such as Hiranuma Takeo and Kamei Shizuka. Conservative commentator, Kase Hideaki, is a leading supporter. But it also claims support from the DPJ leader, Kaieda Banri. AJER relies mainly on Yomiuri and Sankei for media backing in its public activities.

    The elderly Professor Niwa Haruki of Osaka Gakuin university acts as its guru. He has been active now for several years trying to point out how the government has the right to issue not just coinage (as it does now) but currency notes also - a privilege it had conceded to the Bank of Japan but which it had the right to reclaim. (In this sense he preceded the 'platinum coin' debate in the US).

    The Japan Times of Feb 6, 2009, gave extensive coverage to his ideas, noting that Meiji Japan created a precedent for the idea of government currency. It also noted that the idea had the support of Suga Yoshihide, long known as one of current prime minister Abe's closest supporters. Suga is currently Chief Cabinet Secretary.

    The idea has also as precedent in US President Kennedy's move in 1973 to have the US government usurp the Fed's monopoly over currency issue, and issue two billion dollars of its own denominated notes.

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