Corporate Japan’s meddling in U.S.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s address to the joint session of U.S. Congress was made possible by the invitation of Speaker of the House John Boehner. The motivation and intention for offering such a favor to Abe is a mystery, but there are clues. Eamonn Fingleton, a columnist on East Asian affairs, wrote in Forbes, “What explains Boehner’s decision? Money.” More specifically, “With huge investments in the U.S. automotive and electronics industries, corporate Japan is uniquely well placed to influence Congress.”
In elections, U.S. congressmen are evaluated based on the economic situation of their districts. The best marks are given to the congressman who create more jobs and lower the unemployment rate. In contrast, those congressmen whose districts saw a decline in jobs are not likely to keep their seats. So they oppose any measure, regardless of party direction, if it could negatively affect the local economy. It is not rare to see politicians being lured with local jobs in U.S. political drama shows. They cannot win the hearts of local voters by arguing that they put national interests over the district’s interests. The congressmen cannot ignore the foreign investment that keeps factories running and creates jobs. Fingleton was right to address the realistic power that corporate Japan has on U.S. politics.
Japanese companies in Ohio added 2,700 jobs in 2013 alone. Half of the 69,000 jobs there are in the automobile industry. Boehner represents Ohio’s eighth congressional district. Dominant observation in Washington shows Japanese companies that have absolute influence in the local economy played a key role in persuading Boehner. Corporate Japan tactically address the vulnerable and desperate parts of the politicians. And reviving the local economy is the core of their desperate endeavors.
President Obama is also desperate about his economic report card. Normalizing relations with Cuba, pursuing nuclear negotiations with Iran and accelerating the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) reminds us of the president at the height of his power right after inauguration. His regained confidence is based on the economic recovery. The U.S. has returned to the post of global economic engine after a decade. Job creation is at its strongest since 1999.
The youth unemployment rate in Korea has exceeded 10 percent, an alarming sign for the Korean economy. Unemployment darkens the future of families and society. Without quality jobs, social challenges like low birth rate, low consumption and the aging of the population cannot be overcome. Jobs are the best welfare for a good reason. In the next election, why don’t voters decide who to vote for based on their contributions to job creation?
*The author is a New York correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
JoongAng Ilbo, May 19, Page 34
by LEE SANG-RYEOL