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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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 Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs