News / Asia

    Reformist Kan is Japan's New PM

    Japan is welcoming two-time cabinet minister Naoto Kan as its fifth prime minister in four years. The lower house of Parliament, controlled by the Democratic Party of Japan, elected the newly installed party leader to succeed the unpopular Yukio Hatoyama, whose government was dissolved earlier in the day.

    Japan quickly scrambled to put a new government into place following the collapse of the Hatoyama cabinet, which lasted less than nine months.

    Mr. Kan, the incumbent finance minister, moved to the top spot as the Democratic Party of Japan's candidate.

    The Lower House of Parliament announced that Mr. Kan received 313 votes compared to his closest challenger, Sadakazu Tanigaki, the president of the opposition Liberal Democrats, who received 116 ballots.

    The new prime minister, before the parliamentary voting, briefly addressed his fellow party lawmakers after they selected him as the DPJ's president.  

    Mr. Kan says with the help of all of the DPJ lawmakers he wants to put together firm policies to rebuild Japan ahead of next month's upper house election.

    That will be the first big challenge for the 63-year-old new leader. Most analysts are predicting a resounding rebuke from the electorate that would see the Democrats lose control of the less powerful chamber.

    Mr. Kan will also have to try to repair Japan's diplomatic standing, especially the relationship with its closest ally, the United States. He will make his debut on the world stage at an important leaders' summit in Canada in four weeks.

    Mr. Hatoyama's ambiguity concerning the future of U.S. military bases on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa is generally blamed for his downfall.

    During his political ascent, Mr. Kan, a reformer in many areas, has been cryptic about his foreign policy views, including the long-standing defense pact with Washington. He has spoken of a more balanced defense relationship. Analysts predict that as another likely short-time prime minister Mr. Kan may try to avoid getting too involved in the Okinawa base issue, which bedeviled his predecessor.

    Mr. Kan says, however, he will stick to most of the policy initiatives pursued by his predecessor, including the formation of an East Asian community, along the lines of the European Union.

    Mr. Kan, a popular figure for taking on bureaucrats during a stint as health minister in the mid-1990's, is a break from the past. His four short-term predecessors all came from family dynasties rooted in the  Liberal Democratic Party, which as the moderate-to-conservative political force, governed Japan for nearly all of post-Second World War era.  

    The new prime minister, characterized as a short-tempered populist, has more humble roots as the son of a factory manager. A physics student in college, Mr. Kan became a civic activist, stressing environmental and feminist causes. His political career was launched when he won a parliamentary seat as a member of a small opposition party on his fourth attempt.

    As is the case with many prominent Japanese politicians, Mr. Kan has recovered from scandals, including those about his personal finances and one involving an extra-marital relationship.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells California Republican Convention delegates the campaign will be 'a battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of the June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora