News / Asia

Analysts: Japan Crisis Has Calmed Political Infighting for Now

Emperor Akihito addresses the nation from the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, March 16, 2011
Emperor Akihito addresses the nation from the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, March 16, 2011
William Ide

The devastating impact of Japan's earthquake and tsunami and its ongoing nuclear crisis has led to a rare political cooperation among the country's political parties.  But as the Japanese government grapples with the enormous task of recovery, analysts say it is unclear how long the political truce will last.  

Shortly before the earthquake and tsunami struck, analysts say, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan was fighting for his political life.  His foreign minister had resigned after admitting he had accepted an illegal foreign political donation and Mr. Kan had admitted to unknowingly accepting an illegal donation as well.

The prime minister refused to step down, even as the opposition was pushing for a snap election and after members of his Democratic Party of Japan, or DPJ, had called on him to resign.

Michael Auslin of the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research says that as Japan moves beyond the initial shock of the disaster, public attention will turn to the government.

"It should not be a partisan look; it should not be a political game," said Auslin. "But it is natural that the responsibility for rebuilding the country and returning Japan to normalcy, whether it is on the energy side or the economic side or simply the side of getting daily life going ahead, will fall in no small part to the government."

Rodger Baker, vice president of strategic intelligence at STRATFOR, a global intelligence company, says he does not think that politicians in Japan will push for a change in national leadership until the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant subsides.

"Until those facilities are largely contained, the political situation is going to remain in this bit of a cease-fire that we are seeing," said Baker.

Mr. Kan is Japan's sixth prime minister in the last five years.  Control of Japan's bicameral legislature is divided between Mr. Kan's Democratic Party the Liberal Democratic Party, or LDP.

Before the quake, Prime Minister Kan was struggling to pass bills in parliament to finance the country's budget.  Japan's fiscal year begins next month.   Now, the opposition says it will cooperate with the DPJ on an earthquake reconstruction package.

Michael Auslin of the American Enterprise Institute:

“Without question, this will be the greatest test for the DPJ as it would be of any government," he said. "However, for a government that has since taking power steadily lost support of the people, has lost elections and has seemed to be unable to deal with baseline political necessities, I think grave questions will increasingly be asked.”

In the wake of the disaster, there has been calls for reconciliation.  Japan's Emperor Akihito recently delivered a rare televised address to the nation - a message of comfort and a call for unity.

Some political commentators in Japan have voiced hope that the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis will prompt Mr. Kan and the opposition to find a way to work together as the world's third largest economy faces its biggest challenge since World War II.

In a recent article in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Japanese political scientist Takashi Mikuriya suggested that the disaster could become a catalyst for political change in Japan, by focusing attention on rebuilding the nation.

Rodger Baker of STRATFOR says Japanese have a history of pulling together during times of crisis.

"So we do see a country that was highly fractured, at least at the political level, prior to this, that is starting to consolidate in the midst of this," he said. "And that, I think, leans again toward this idea that the Japan that comes out of this may ultimately be far different than the Japan we saw going into it."

Others analysts are less optimistic that the crisis in Japan will enable the country's two rival political parties to bridge decades of mutual mistrust.   

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
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 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.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs