Published:  01:44 AM, 24 November 2017 Last Update: 01:46 AM, 24 November 2017

Japan is one of the strongest countries in the world

Japan is one of the strongest countries in the world

Japan is one of the industrialized and democratic countries in the world. There are ups and downs in its history. It has developed a harmonious composite culture based on indigenous Shinto religion-culture and Indian origin Buddhist religion culture.

Its economy growth achieved highest level from 50's to 70's and occupied the 2nd largest position of the world. Now it has declined still holding the third position. The first national constitution was promulgated in 1889 and Parliamentary politics was established. Now brief history, political and economic conditions are discussed.

During the Jomon period, which began around 10,000 BC, the inhabitants of Japan lived by fishing, hunting, and gathering. In the fourth century, ancestors of the present imperial family established Japan's first unified state under what is known as the Yamato court. During this period, manufactured articles, weapons, and agricultural tools were introduced from China and Korea.

A centralized government, with its capital in what is now the city of Nara, (710AD - 794) was established under a Chinese-style system of law codes known as the Ritsuryo system. Buddhism which had come from Indian sub continent became the national religion, and Buddhist art and architecture flourished.

After the capital moved to what is now Kyoto, (794AD - 1185) certain noble families, especially the Fujiwara family, gained control of the government, ruling on behalf of the emperor. The Chinese-style system that had dominated the Nara period was gradually replaced by a more indigenous style of culture closer to the lives of the people and their natural surroundings.

Tokugawa Ieyasu, who defeated other vassals of the deceased Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the Battle of Sekigahara and thereby gained control of Japan, established the Tokugawa Shogunate in Edo (now Tokyo). The Tokugawa shoguns (1868AD - 1912) ruled Japan for over 260 years, and for some 200 of these years the country was virtually shut off from foreign contact by the shogunate's policy of national seclusion. From the end of the 17th century through the beginning of the 18th century, a colorful, down-to-earth new culture developed among the townsmen of the older cities of Kyoto and Osaka.

The Meiji Restoration, by which political authority was restored from the shogunate to the imperial court, ushered in a period of far-reaching reform. The policy of national seclusion was rescinded, and the culture and civilization of the West began to pervade every aspect of Japanese life. Japan's victories in the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars enabled it to assume the stance of a modern, imperialistic world power.

The financial crisis of 1927, which occurred in the aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 that devastated the Tokyo area, eventually led to a long period of economic depression. In these circumstances, the power of the military increased, and it eventually gained control of the government. The Manchurian Incident of 1931 launched a series of events that culminated in Japan's entry into World War II.

This war ended in Japan's defeat, with Emperor Showa accepting the terms of the Potsdam Declaration. Netagi Subash Bose had gone to Germany and then went to Japan by sub marine in 1942. He formed Azad Hind fouz and tried to liberate Indian sub-continent from British. Japan rose from the rubble of defeat, going on to achieve an almost miraculous economic recovery, which has allowed it to take its place among the world's leading democratic powers.

Japanese history can be divided into four major periods: (1) the period in which emperors held real power, (2) the period of samurai governments, (3) the period of modernization and military invasion, and (4) the period of post WW2 growth. Several Western powers wanted to open up Japan from its self-imposed isolation. First, the Russians came. Then other Europeans arrived. But the Edo government refused to deal with them.

Finally, in 1853, the American troops led by Commodore Perry came with four "black ships" loaded with powerful guns to force Japan into concession. The Edo government-and the entire nation-was thrown into confusion. A strong anti-foreigner movement emerged all over Japan. In the following year, the government yielded to the American pressure and signed the Japan-US Friendship Treaty.

Other Western powers followed the American move. The Americans further demanded a full commercial treaty with Japan. In 1858, in the midst of a heated national debate, the government suppressed the opposition and concluded commercial treaties with the West which later turned out to be defective. Criticism against the government rose sharply and internal political fights ensued, finally toppling the Edo government in 1867.

The new Meiji government restored the emperor (who for a long time had no real power) as a supreme ruler and adopted a policy of rapid Westernization, modernization and militarization. In the political area, the first national constitution was promulgated in 1889 and parliamentary politics was established.

In the economic area, the absorption of Western technology and the creation of modern industries were the primary national goals. The textile industry gradually emerged as an internationally competitive industry. In the military area, Japan won a war against China (Qing Dynasty) in 1894-95 and began to invade Korea (it was later colonized in 1910).

Japan also fought a victorious war with the Russian Empire in 1904-05. The Japanese economy experienced an enormous export-led boom during WW1. During the 1920s, industrialization continued despite frequents recessions, the Great Kanto Earthquake, and banking crisis. The party cabinet system and the diplomacy based on international cooperation (especially with the US) were implemented during most of the 1920s.

But in the 1930s Japan turned decisively to militarism. In the 1931 Manchurian Incident, Northeast China was occupied. A full-scale war with China was initiated in 1937 and the Pacific War began in 1941. Wartime economic planning was adopted.

Japan was defeated in 1945 and the country's economic base was destroyed. Under the US occupation, a recovery strategy under material planning was successfully conducted in 1947-48 and postwar inflation was terminated in 1949. From the mid 1950s through the early 1970s, Japan enjoyed very rapid growth and industrialization. The manufacturing sector expanded strongly and Japan became the second largest economy in the world (after the US) by the end of the 1960s. Global trade expansion and a stable exchange rate contributed to the miracle growth.

As the Japanese economy got matured, growth slowed down. In the 1970s, oil shocks and floating exchange rates reduced Japan's growth to about 4 percent. An asset bubble in land and stocks occurred in the late 1980s which burst in 1990-91. Since the early 1990s and even to this day, the Japanese economic growth has been declined.

The Japanese political system is based on Japan's constitution, which was drafted after the end of World War II. Enacted on May 3, 1947, it firmly established a democracy in form of a constitutional monarchy, which, similar to the U.K., maintained its long-standing imperial family as the honorary figurehead of the country.

From this point forward, governmental power has been distributed between three branches; the National Diet, the Cabinet, and the judiciary sections of the government. These entities serve as the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches respectively.

According to the constitution, the Emperor carries out ceremonial duties, such as appointing the Prime Minister and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court into office, and presenting distinguished awards from the government of Japan.

The prime minister of Japan is the face of Japan's acting government, driving domestic policy and guiding foreign diplomacy for the nation. To be a prime minister of Japan, one must be a Japanese national, and also a standing member of the current National Diet.

The Diet of Japan consists of an upper house, The House of Councilors, and a lower house, The House of Representatives. It is the highest level of state power in the country, and the only section of government that can enact new laws. The Diet's main functions include appointing the prime minister of Japan, approving the national budget, ratifying international treaties, and creating and implementing amendments to the constitution.

The upper house, The House of Councilors, consists of 242 members who serve 6-year terms. The lower house, The House of Representatives, consists of 480 members who serve 4-year terms. 300 members are voted into office directly from their local districts. 180 of the members are preferred party members appointed via the proportional representation system. The House of Representatives holds the highest authority of pushing bills into law.

If the House of Councilors rejects a bill, the House of Representatives can re-vote on the bill and enact it with a vote of two-thirds or higher in support. The position of chief judge of the Supreme Court is decided by the cabinet but appointed by the Emperor through formal ceremony. The cabinet directly appoints the other 14 Supreme Court judges.

All judges must be reviewed every 10 years after their appointment, and the retirement age is 70. Political control of Japan's government ultimately comes down to the Diet and how its members are allocated among party affiliations. Currently, the conservative leaning Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has held strong influence in national politics since 1955. There have been brief moments of weakness for the LDP, but they have overwhelmingly controlled the government during the majority of its current existence.

There are dozens of active political parties in Japan, though rarely do they gain enough seats in the upper or lower houses to influence policy in a strong way. As recently as 2009, the LDP lost its majority stake in the diet to the Democratic Party of Japan (DJP), who appointed their own prime minister in the same year.

This shift of power was short-lived, and since 2010 the LDP has regained and remained in power. In 2016, the DPJ merged with the Japan Innovation Party (JIP) to create a new party called The Democratic Party (DP). The DP hopes to gain more influence in coming years, and contest the long-standing influence of the LDP in Japan's government.

Shinto and Buddhism are Japan's two major religions. Shinto is as old as the Japanese culture, while Buddhism had come from India in the 6th century and thus Japanese culture is influenced by Indian culture. Since then, the two religions have been co-existing relatively harmoniously and have even complemented each other to a certain degree. Most Japanese consider themselves Buddhist, Shintoist or both. The average person typically follows the religious rituals at ceremonies like birth, weddings and funerals may visit a shrine or temple on New Year and participates at local festivals (matsuri), most of which have a religious background.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has scored a major victory in national elections that returned his ruling coalition to power in decisive fashion. A victory for Mr Abe would mean a continuation of the policies of the last five years. Mr Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and a small coalition partner had together secured 312 seats in the 465-seat lower house of parliament, Japanese media said, passing the 310-barrier for a two-thirds majority.

In the immediate term, a victory likely means a continuation of the policies Mr Abe has pursued in the nearly five years since he took office in December 2012 - a hard line on North Korea, close ties with Washington, including defense, as well as a super-loose monetary policy and push for nuclear energy. Mr. Abe recently visited India and formed India - Japan Act- East forum to work jointly.

It will ensure security in Asia- Pacific. President Donald Trump also declared that Quadra of USA, India, Japan and Australia is being developed to work in Asia- Pacific and Africa. Parliament members and civil society supported us during liberation war of Bangladesh. Bangabandhu visited Japan in October 11973, since then Japan is our important development partner. PM Sheikh Hasina also visited Japan and there are high level visits between the two countries. In Rohingyas issue also Japan is helping Bangladesh.

There are co- operation in trade investment, infrastructure development, education, health and other service sectors. We hope cooperation of Japan with Bangladesh, India and other countries of Asia- Pacific will be helpful for peace, democracy and progress in the region and world.


The writer is a former Professor and Ambassador

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