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Japan

Yearbook 1997

1997 JapanJapan. With a series of spectacular financial crashes, a year of testing ended for the world's second largest economy. Problems with Japan's largest brokerage were added to the weak business cycle and crises in the region's so-called tiger economies - important trading partners.

In March, police struck the real estate agency Nomura, which is suspected to have paid millions to the leader of a blackmail syndicate. The extortionists, "sokaiya", buy into companies and then threaten to disrupt their business if they do not receive money. However, paying them is illegal.

According to Countryaah, the tracks led to three other brokerage houses - Daiwa, Nikko and Yamaichi - and the commercial bank DKB. Several directors and senior officials were arrested, and DKB's chairman took his life for shame. Major corporations Toshiba and Mitsubishi also admitted payments to extortionists, and several managers resigned.

Japanese finance companies also failed under the burden of major problem loans. The government presented a plan, "big bang", from 1998 to decontaminate and liberalize the money market. In the fall, several finance companies went bankrupt. The hundred-year-old brokerage house Yamaichi's senior executives filed for bankruptcy in November. Yamaichi left debts of SEK 180 billion, Japan's worst financial crash after the war.

The coalition government's largest party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), despite internal divisions, confirmed its domestic political dominance. But there were protests both inside and outside the LDP in September when Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto appointed conservative Koko Sato, bribed after the so-called Lockheed scandal in the mid-1970s, as a new reform minister. Sato had to leave after only eleven days. Just before the turn of the year, the country's largest opposition party, Shinshinto (New Progress Party), dissolved, and leader Ichiro Ozawa said he would form a new party in early 1998.

Japan's large trade surplus deepened its cooperation with the United States, a cornerstone of Tokyo's foreign policy. A port law battle was also close to triggering a trade war before the two countries could agree in October. The month before, they had signed a new, expanded defense agreement in which Japan pledged to more actively support the United States in an armed conflict in the region. The deal was irritating in China and was raised both during Hashimoto's visit to Beijing in September and when Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng arrived in Tokyo two months later. When Hashimoto met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Siberian Krasnoyarsk in late autumn, the two promised a peace agreement on the archipelago of the Kurils, disputed since the second half of the 19th century, by 2000 at the latest.

Sweden's royal couple traveled to Japan on a week-long private visit in May, but no more privately than the king and queen at the same time struck a blow both for increased Swedish-Japanese business cooperation and for the fight against child pornography.

1997 Japan

In March, a Japan-US summit ended in failure. Although Hosokawa declared its readiness to open the Japanese markets for automobiles, telecommunications, medicine and insurance, he rejected the US demand to impose certain quotas. Japanese businessmen condemned Hosokawa and stated in favor of waging a trade war with the United States rather than succumbing to the demands of the superpower. The Japanese car industry employed 11% of the workforce and accounted for 30% of GDP.

LDP parliamentarian Nakamura was arrested for corruption after receiving bribes from Kajima and other construction groups. Hosokawa could not escape the opposition's accusations. about involvement in illegal business. In April, he filed his farewell request and "apologized to the Japanese people". As new Prime Minister, Tsutomu Hata was appointed and on April 28 he was able to represent his government - the first minority government in four decades. The Socialist Party withdrew from the coalition and the government therefore had only 182 out of the 512 seats of the lower house.

Hata made a journey through Europe to improve trade relations with the EU, admitting that the background to the crisis in relations with the United States was the extensive Japanese trade surplus. After a principle agreement was reached between the two trade blocs, Hata initiated a program of deregulation of the Japanese economy.

However, the Hata government had a short life. On June 29, Social Democrat Tomiichi Murayama was appointed new Prime Minister. He took up the post on July 18. His party - the Japanese Social Democracy - did not have a majority in parliament but entered into an agreement with its traditional rival, the LDP and with the new party, Sakigake.

The inauguration of Kansai Airport, which was built on an artificial island, triggered a stream of island city building projects. The huge overpopulation of the major Japanese cities forced the Japanese to rethink the use of land available.

On January 17, 95, the Hanshin region was hit by earthquakes. Over 6,000 people were killed, 100,000 buildings destroyed in the old imperial city of Kobe and 300,000 people left homeless. The government was strongly criticized for its slow response to the disaster. The lower house allocated $ 10 billion to rebuild the area.

In March, a series of assaults on the poison gas sarin killed 12 people and poisoned 5,500 in Tokyo's subway. A similar attack had cost 7 lives in Matsumoto in June the year before. The leader of the religious sect, Aum Shinriyko (Supreme Truth), Shoko Asahara was charged with the assaults and arrested along with 16 others of the movement's leaders.

Prime Minister Murayama had to take note of a defeat when independent candidate Yukio Aoshima was elected governor of Tokyo at the April 9, 95 election. The Social Democrats also did not get a particularly good result in the July supplementary elections, when half of the House members were up for election. Instead, opposition party Sakigake stepped forward.

In January 96, Murayama was succeeded as Prime Minister by LDP Chairman Ryutaro Hashimoto. The new head of government postponed parliamentary elections to October, giving his party a relatively majority in parliament. In November, Hashimoto put together a new government consisting exclusively of LDP members.

At a local referendum held at the end of 97, just over half of Nago's residents on the island of Okinawa voted against the building of a helicopter airport on the island. The United States had been present on the island since the Japanese capitulation in 45 and had built an extensive military base complex that housed 10-20,000 North American soldiers. The governments of both countries had declared that the construction of the helicopter airport was a step on the road towards the dismantling of the base, but it apparently did not convince the majority of Noga's inhabitants. In advance, the situation was tense after North American soldiers raped and killed a young Japanese woman.

 

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