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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora