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  • "A Japan where every person can have hope for tomorrow" sounds like a fairly modest aspiration.


  • But that was the hope that Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, expressed for the new Reiwa imperial era.


  • Associated with the crowning of Emperor Naruhito, the new Japanese monarch, on May 1.

    5 月 1 日、新しい天皇である徳仁様の即位にともなったものです。

  • For Mr. Abe, awakening a sense of optimism in his fellow countrymen is part of a broader mission.


  • The Japanese prime minister knows that his country faces serious challenges.


  • Including an ageing and shrinking population, a heavy debt burden, and the potential threat of a rising China.


  • The success or failure of efforts to inject new dynamism into Japan will affect the whole world.


  • Japan is the most powerful democracy in Asia, and the third largest economy in the world.

    日本はアジアで最も力を持つ民主主義国で、世界で 3 番目の経済大国でもあります。

  • So it is crucial for the global balance of power.


  • For Mr. Abe, who's likely to step down in 2021, issues of international resilience and domestic revival are closely connected.

    2021 年に辞任すると見込まれている安倍首相によると、国際的な舞台での復活と国内の再生は密接に関連しているとの見解です。

  • Japan needs to be economically strong and optimistic about the future if it's to resist succumbing to fatalism about living in a China-dominated region.


  • The demographic difficulties that Japan is facing are underlined by official projections.


  • A low birth rate and an aging population means that Japan's population has been declining since 2010.

    出生率の低さと高齢化は 2010 年以降日本の人口が減少していることを意味します。

  • It currently stands at a little over 126 million, but official projections suggest that it will fall below 100 million in 2053, and go as low as 88 million by 2065.

    現在の人口は 1 億 2600 万人をやや上回っている程度ですが、統計では 2053 年までに 1 億以下、2065 年までに 8800 万人にまで減少するとみられています。

  • In an effort to respond, the Abe government's tried to make it easier for women to both work and have children.


  • And Japan's also doing more to encourage emigration.


  • But even the modest measures taken so far prove very controversial in a country that treasures its cultural homogeneity.


  • Some government advisers worry that Japan may even fall prey to the populist anti-immigration politics already visible in the US and Europe.


  • A shrinking population is a drag on GDP.

    人口減少は GDP に影響を及ぼします。

  • And a smaller economy will make Japan's debt burden even harder to manage.


  • At nearly 240 percent, the government's debt to GDP ratio is the highest in the developed world.

    政府の GDP に対する負債はおよそ 240 %にも上り、先進国では最も高い比率となります。

  • Government economists worry that the rising medical bills of the elderly will further strain government finances in the coming years.


  • And the fear of higher taxes or even a debt default might also deepen pessimism about the future.


  • And then there's fear of China.


  • The Chinese army and navy are growing rapidly.


  • And the Japanese are painfully aware that modern Chinese nationalism feeds on hostility towards Japan, kept alive by memories of the Japanese invasion of the 1930s.

    日本は現在の中国国家主義は反日感情により拡大を見せていることを認知しています、それは 1930 年代日本による占領の記憶によりいまだに健在です。

  • "No defence that China can devise, be it men or material, can withstand this relentless advance."


  • "Triumph is to the invader."


  • Mr. Abe notes that Japan needs friends, and he's done his utmost to preserve the special relationship with the US,


  • and to build a new special relationship with India.


  • Mr. Abe has his political roots in the nationalist wing of Japanese politics.


  • And he's maintained links to groups that have alarming attitudes to Japan's wartime role.


  • But the prime minister is intelligent enough to understand that in modern Japan, a nationalist needs to be an internationalist.


  • Building alliances and international links that will allow Japan to thrive even as China rises.


  • That challenge is likely to define the new Reiwa era.


"A Japan where every person can have hope for tomorrow" sounds like a fairly modest aspiration.


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