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

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level 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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid