In mid July, news broke on Japan’s national broadcaster NHK that Emperor Akihito wished to abdicate in favour of his son Naruhito. A week ago, the Emperor released a video message to the people of Japan, inferring that this was indeed his desire.
On 10 July, Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition won an impressive victory in Japan’s half-upper house election. Having campaigned on the need to stay the Abenomics course, Abe stated in his victory speech that he would convene commissions on the constitution in both houses of parliament.
Rikki Kersten was recently a guest of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss security policy with Japanese policymakers.
While Tony Abbott has faced his leadership crisis over the last week, the policy ground has shifted underneath Japan's defence and security policy-makers.
Why would a prime minister with a two-thirds majority in the lower house of parliament go to the polls two years early? While Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is experiencing a slump in the polls at present, it is two years away from having to front the electorate if the normal electoral cycle is followed. If we scratch the surface it is not difficult to find reasons why Abe has taken this extraordinary step.
Australia's relationship with Japan has witnessed some extraordinary developments in recent months.
On 31 March Australia won its case against Japanese 'scientific' whaling at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, and less than two weeks later the two nations signed a Free Trade Agreement in Tokyo that was seven years in the making.