The April 12 editorial “A decisive but divisive leader” makes me contemplate a lot of things. For better or worse, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher played an active role in ending the Cold War and was one of the tough advocates of neoliberalism. A lot of people, though, believe this led to excessive market fundamentalism, which seems to have been a recipe for social maladies in developed countries. It is controversial to judge her achievements accurately at the moment.
I believe Japan is in a situation similar to that of England when it was regarded as the “sick old man of Europe.” A lot of politicians and business leaders still seem to rest on the laurels of Japan Inc.’s successful experience after World War II.
On the other hand, not a few citizens and industries still rely heavily on the government to live. It has been said that Japanese society likes the word “reform,” but tries to ignore the ramifications or negative aspects of what reform entails.
Some people hope to see the return of a prime minister like Junichiro Koizumi, who emulated Thatcher-style politics, but he was only successful in introducing market fundamentalism. Average Japanese citizens did not get enough of the benefits to feel that their lives had improved, compared with British people.
I hope Japan gets out of its long period of economic and political stagnation. A decisive and candid leader is needed in Japan as well. But Japanese citizens should realize that there is no such thing as reform that doesn’t bring about a certain amount of pain.
The politicians in history who become known as great statesmen are supposed to take painful measures straightforwardly, even if they are called a “milk snatcher.”
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.