Before I get started let me just say, that I have never been to the United States and I don’t claim to understand their political system, but as they are the country with probably the strongest international influence, today’s result definitely needs to be discussed.
My friends from Japan have without exception all been shocked – none of them reckoned Trump to even have any serious chance in the election. They have been laughing about memes and funny pictures made about him, and generally treated him more like a comedian than an actual presidential candidate.
There was even a number of people dressing up as him for Halloween and one guy was also at our Halloween Party last week. It was not a political statement at all, he had told me – it was just for the laughs.
Today, the discussions I heard the most of, asked how this could have happened.
Before today, not only in the context of the US election but also in Europe, I could observe a lot of people being frustrated with what they call the establishment. They refer to the people in charge, the political systems or the companies benefiting from a country’s economic system.
Hillary Clinton, for varying reasons, represents this very concept to many people and maybe the result today can be rather seen as an election against her as a part of that system, than an election for Donald Trump.
I also think that this point was mainly why especially my friends from Japan were so shocked by that result. The leading party here in Japan, the LDP, has been in power almost continuously ever since its foundation in the 50’s! There have been only two periods – in the 90’s and from 2009 to 2012 – were they weren’t. You can actually talk about political clans here, because those elected in parliament are usually from families that have had political power and functions for several generations. For some reason there don’t seem to be any massive resentment against their “establishment”.
Maybe one of the reasons for that is, that the Japanese population is on average one of the oldest in the world. The young people of Japan have seen their future perspectives gradually disappearing before them since the breakdown of the Japanese Economy, but are an absolute minority in this country. In the United States not only young people are beginning to feel like the losers of globalization. Trump has been demanding equality on customs duties and trade, claiming that in the US you see so many Chinese and Japanese electronics and cars and none of US products in Asian countries at all.
He draws a very misleading picture with that, as supermarkets here are crammed with US products and US merchandise and brands are immensely popular in Japan – but he sure enough speaks to those that feel left behind in the United States.
Another point he has made in his campaign was, that Japan would not help the US military in an attack, while the US was obliged to protect Japan with its military forces. The fact that he blames this situation on Japan only shows how uninformed he was at that moment, though, as this situation had been arranged by the US during their occupation of Japan after WWII.
The discussion to revoke that very paragraph in the Japanese constitution had been going on for a while now in the Japanese society, and should the US decide on denying the Japanese further military support, this would encourage the demands of the Japanese conservatives even further – ironically, out of a mostly anti-american sentiment. It could even start a discussion whether Japan would need their own nuclear weapons in that case, which would definitely lead to disturbances in South-East Asia.
Right now these are only predictions and a lot of opinion. The report we just watched focused mainly on economic factors and avoided political statements for now.
I guess we will have to wait and see what the coming months will further reveal on all this.