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Date Published:Oct 1, 2008
Japanese political leaders have become "extrovert" in two ways. First, they have become extrovert in terms of seeking media exposure. They have become much enamored of cameras and sound bites. Although the former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi (in office from April 26, 2001 to September 26, 2006) did not create this trend, he definitely turned the new trend into a routine by making twice-daily appearances in front of the TV camera—a practice his successors Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe (from September 26, 2006 to September 26, 2007) and Yasuo Fukuda (from September 26, 2007 to present) have inherited. Second, Japanese political leaders have become more assertive and vocal on security and foreign policy issues. Recent developments in Japanese defense policy, including sending Self Defense Forces to Iraq, would not have happened if it were not for the leadership of Prime Minister Koizumi. More politicians actively debate foreign policy in the media, and try to draw appeal with their foreign policy expertise. Why is this change occurring? What is the source of the increasingly "extrovert" behavior among Japanese political leaders?
A paper originally prepared for "Japan and the World: The Domestic Politics of How the World Looks to Japan" Conference at Yale University, March 9-10, 2007. The authors are indebted to comments by the fellow conference participants. Special thanks to Michael Thies for his detailed comments.