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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid