News / Asia

Japan's Neighbors Give Cautious Welcome to New PM

Previous comments by the 54-year-old politician Yoshihiko Noda, who is poised to lead Japan’s government, are prompting concern about whether he truly desires better relations with Japan’s neighbors.

During a news conference last month, speaking as finance minister, Noda reiterated that he did not consider as criminals the 28 Japanese political and military leaders convicted by the Allied powers of top-level crimes against peace and humanity following World War II.

But this week, after being named as prime minister, Noda said the administration he is forming will adhere to the stance of past Japanese governments accepting the verdicts.

The incoming prime minister says he does not intend to brandish a certain view of history although he has answered questions on the matter previously. Noda says he clearly wants to state he hopes relations in Asia, including with China and South Korea, can be made into a win-win situation.

But Japan’s neighbors will be closely watching to see if Noda or members of his cabinet visit the controversial Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo.  The Shinto religious site is where the spirits of those who fought on behalf of Imperial Japan are enshrined, including those convicted of war crimes by the Allied powers.

The issue is especially sensitive in China and on the Korean peninsula, parts of which were under Japan’s harsh colonization in the early 20th century.

Visits to Yasukuni by cabinet members of previous Japanese governments, led by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, infuriated Chinese and Koreans.

A professor of international politics, Son Ki-sup at the Pusan University of Foreign Studies, warns that, if the new prime minister - who is from the left-of-center Democratic Party of Japan - visits the shrine while in office, relations with South Korea will suffer.

But Son says he has examined Noda’s policy statements and believes he is committed to improving Japan’s relations with its neighbors. However, he points out that the new Japanese leader’s expertise is in financial matters rather than foreign policy.

The Korea Herald, in an editorial Wednesday notes relations between Seoul and Tokyo have remained largely trouble-free since the DPJ came to power, two years ago. But the newspaper, in noting Noda’s election, recalls the mood of cooperation being repeatedly “shattered by insensitive remarks by politicians, while mutual trust remains thin because of frequent leadership changes” in Japan.

The China Daily, in a commentary published this week, comments on what it calls Noda’s previous “hawkish” remarks about history. The newspaper, known for expressing official government policy, says many Asian countries have reasons to worry about Japan's foreign policy under the new prime minister’s leadership.

Guo Dingping, the director of the Japan research study center at China’s Fudan University, is hoping Noda will steer a positive course.

The professor says he does not consider Noda’s past attitudes and opinions a harbinger of his future policies towards China.  He says he hopes the new prime minister will put forward beneficial economic and political benefits for the betterment of the bilateral relationship.

In South Korea, Son says Tokyo and Seoul need to upgrade their strategically important partnership by boosting cooperation in regional security and striking a free trade agreement.  

But the professor says, for this to happen,the South Korean government should tell the new administration in Tokyo to be objective about history, including such issues as the controversial war shrine and sensitivity concerning Japan’s territorial disputes with its neighbors.

Many analysts do not expect Noda to focus much on Asian policy. That is because he is likely to be busy with trying to revive Japan’s moribund economy and directing the recovery effort following the March 11 natural and nuclear disasters, which left 20,000 people dead or missing.

Divisive politics within Noda’s own party also are likely to distract the new prime minister. Some observers already predict the Noda administration will not last longer than those of its five predecessors -- none of which survived more than 15 months.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs