Japan's new leader
By Scott Sumner
I’ve long held the view that pundits pay far too much attention to American elections and not enough attention to elections in foreign countries. It’s not that US elections are unimportant—we are the world’s dominant power—rather the relative importance of the US is generally exaggerated. The US is more important than the world’s 3rd largest economy, but surely it’s not 100 times more important.
How many people know that Japan just picked Yoshihide Suga as its new leader? How many know that his policy preferences differ somewhat from those of Prime Minister Abe?
After graduating, he became secretary to a Yokohama politician, where his real education began. His boss was minister of transport in the early 1980s, heavily involved in the privatisation of Japan Railways. “I think that’s the basis for Mr Suga’s politics,” said Isao Mori, his biographer. “It’s something like Thatcherism or Reaganism.” Whereas Mr Abe is a conservative, Mr Suga belongs more to the free market wing of the LDP, aiming to shake off the shackles of Japan’s regulatory state.
One thing I’ve noticed is that the view of the media on issues such as deregulation are very much dependent on context. When discussing deregulation in the US, there’s often a high degree of skepticism. In contrast, there’s generally a tacit assumption that deregulation is a positive development when discussed on other countries—something that would boost efficiency. I’d be interested in knowing if other people have noticed the same pattern.
PS. Of course most media outlets do not even discuss deregulation in foreign countries. Here I’m focusing on outlets such as the Financial Times, the New York Times, The Economist, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the South China Morning Post, etc.