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

    Video For Many US Veterans, the Vietnam War Continues

    More than 40 years after it ended, war in Vietnam and America’s role in it continue to provoke bitter debate, especially among those who fought in it

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    100 immigrants graduated Friday as US citizens in New York, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in cities across country

    Family's Fight Pays Off With Arlington Cemetery Burial Rights for WASPs

    Policy that allowed the Women Airforce Service Pilots veterans to receive burial rites at Arlington had been revoked in 2015

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora