News

Election Will Pit Japanese PM Against Opposition Parties and His Own

As Japan gears up for parliamentary elections next month, a battle is looming not just between parties, but also within the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party itself. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has again thrown down the gauntlet to his fellow party members to back his reform agenda, and some of them have responded by questioning his leadership.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has repeatedly vowed to remake his Liberal Democratic Party, which has dominated Japan's government for nearly all of the post-World War II era.

When parliament's upper house Monday defeated his main reform plan for the postal service, he staked his political career on that vow.

After dissolving parliament and calling new elections over the issue, the prime minister warned his party to stand behind him.

In a nationally televised news conference, Mr. Koizumi said that those in the party who do not line up with him on postal privatization could forget about enjoying LDP backing in the election.

Many LDP members, such as former lower house speaker Tamisuke Watanuki, are embittered by the prime minister's political priorities.

Mr. Watanuki questions the constitutionality of Mr. Koizumi's method of dissolving the lower house, and asks whether Mr. Koizumi is still fit to lead the party.

Mr. Koizumi, who took office with a reputation as a maverick, is determined to reform Japan's postal system, which critics say spends billions of dollars on wasteful projects and is prone to corruption.

Many politicians of all parties do not support privatization because of the influence of Japan's rural postmasters and the postal system's 380,000 civil servants. These civil servants comprise a powerful bloc at election time. Every year, some of the postal system's $3 trillion in savings and life insurance assets help fund public works projects. The value of many of these has been questioned, but they are popular with rural voters.

Mr. Koizumi also wasted no time in attacking the main opposition Democratic Party, calling it the anti-reform party because it opposed his postal plan but has not come up with an alternative.

Opposition leaders say Mr. Koizumi has forced parliament to dwell on postal privatization for months and ignored more important domestic and foreign policy matters.

Tuesday, Katsuya Okada, leader of the Democrats, says the government's inability to improve relations with Japan's neighbors should be a major campaign issue. Japan in recent months has found itself embroiled in disputes with China, Taiwan, North Korea and South Korea.

The Democrats have primarily stayed on the sidelines while the LDP tore itself apart over postal reform. Analysts say that given the disarray within the LDP, the Democrats could emerge victorious next month.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs