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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More