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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

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