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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid