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Nikkei, Japan

The Fiscal Problems Binding
Obama’s Second Term

Translated By Stephanie Chiu

23 January 2013

Edited by Molly Rusk


Japan - Nikkei - Original Article (Japanese)

President Obama has entered his second term in office. Considering the polarization of the American government, the unstable economic and financial situation, the increasing instability of international circumstances and more, the future looks grim. Even if the superpower is declining, however, it is vital that they maintain a presence for the sake of world peace and prosperity. As an ally, Japan also wishes to work hand-in-hand in order to achieve this goal.

“For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it,” the president said at his inauguration ceremony. This marks his decision to press forward with the goal of mending social disparity through tax increases on the wealthy and other such methods.

The more strongly liberal policies he initiates, the more chaotic the government will become. Considering that the “fiscal cliff” has been pushed back two months, if the federal debt ceiling isn’t raised, then there will also be fear that part of the government body will be forced to shut down.

A second term president who doesn’t need to worry about the next election tends to be idealistic. Knowing full well that America has to shoulder the heavy responsibility of the world economy, I would like the president to take a realistic approach in problem solving without aimlessly antagonizing the Republican Party, which holds majority in the House of Representatives.

Fiscal problems have tied Obama’s hands diplomatically as well: “the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone.” The inward-facing attitude America will take to avoid participating in international disputes was made clear at the inauguration speech. Drastic cuts in the national defense budget are unavoidable.

The president also stated that “America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe.” In anticipation of China’s rising power, it seems there will be continued emphasis on diplomatic security strategies in the Pacific Ocean. However, if American involvement in that area loses steam because of fiscal problems, it is likely that China’s military expansion will accelerate to point that it harms stability in the region. The tension surrounding the Korean peninsula will continue to exist.

To Japan, which relies on American forces to keep peace in the country, this is a dangerous situation. However, no matter how anxious we are, it can’t be helped. It is important that Japan consults with America about how to deal with China, proactively assumes the burden of American forces and helps sustain involvement in Asia.

There is a lot we can accomplish even within the limits of existing laws. Surveying the coastal waters of Japan and collecting information are just some examples of what we can do. Additionally, the government should hurry to consider how we can collectively use our right of self-defense.



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