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

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs