Japan Opposition Party Candidates Vow to Protect Islands

Four lawmakers vying for leadership of Japan’s main opposition party have promised to protect Japan’s control of islands at the center of a territorial furor with China.

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe blasted China at a press conference Wednesday after anti-Japanese riots flared across China. He says that if Beijing can’t protect Japanese living in China it “should not enjoy membership in the international society.”

The conservative Liberal Democratic Party chooses a leader Sept. 26. The winner may become prime minister if the LDP wins elections that the prime minister has said he will call soon.

Former defense chief Shigeru Ishiba says that “losing a piece of the territory eventually means losing the whole country.”

A fifth candidate, Nobutaka Machimura, was hospitalized Tuesday for exhaustion but remains in the race.

Read the rest of the story: Japan opposition candidates vow to protect islands.

The Noda-Obama Meeting and the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance

PM Noda yesterday returned to Tokyo from his first foreign diplomatic foray—at the U.N. in New York.    There he addressed the General Assembly—or what was left of it, since he had the bad luck of speaking after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, for whose plea for Palestinian statehood and independent a standing room only audience of delegates had assembled, but then immediately afterward dispersed, leaving the hall fairly empty.

A pity, perhaps, because for Japan, and PM Noda, the appearance and speech had an important purpose, which was to officially thank the “international community” for the assistance to and sympathy for Japan following the 3.11 earthquake, tsunami, Fukushima nuclear accident disasters.   Also, it was an occasion—not to be missed—for Japan to pledge to fully and continuously study the lessons learned from Fukushima, and to be a global leader in propagating safe use of nuclear power.

Finally, it was a chance for Noda to appear on a “world stage,” even if it was mostly cameras from Japanese TV networks recording the event.   

By all accounts, in all above respects, the U.N. speech was a success.

Read the rest of the story: The Noda-Obama Meeting and the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance.

We hardly knew you: Why Japans PMs dont last long

After serving only 14 months as prime minister, Naoto Kan was replaced by his finance minister, Yoshihiko Noda, as the new leader of Japans ruling Democratic Party of Japan DPJ Monday. Noda is expected to officially be named Japan’s prime minister after a vote in parliament Tuesday, since the DPJ holds a majority in the Japanese parliament.

Noda faces a mountain of challenges: ongoing tsunami recovery, the nuclear crisis and a stagnant and struggling economy.

But Noda is not the first person to try to fix Japan: he is the sixth prime minister to try to lead Japan in five years.

Why the constant turnover?

Read the rest of the story: We hardly knew you: Why Japans PMs dont last long.

Odds are Noda as New PM by Months End

Whither Japan tries to focus on drivers of Japan’s medium- and long-term future, and to avoid the topical, quotidian, and pedestrian.  Japanese politics, hence, although we are obliged to and do follow it, is something about which we do not often post. 

The occasion for today’s message is the likelihood that in ten days Japan will choose its sixth prime minister in six years.

He is likely to be the Finance Minister, Noda Yoshihiko, a 54 year old long serving Dietman, graduate of Waseda University, pro-business, fiscal conservative.The current PM, Kan Naoto, a week ago finally confirmed in words that are not easily waffled that he will resign as soon as the Diet passes two pieces of legislation, a deficit bond issuance authority, and an alternative energy bill.  The Diet session ends on August 31.

Read the rest of the story: The Odds are on Noda as New PM by Months End.

Japan counts down to PM Kan’s departure

Prospects grew on Wednesday that Prime Minister Naoto Kan would resign this month, setting the stage for the selection of Japan’s sixth leader in five years as the country struggles to rebuild from a massive tsunami, forge a new energy policy in the wake of a nuclear crisis and fix tattered state finances.

With two key bills that Kan wants to make into law before he goes looking likely to be enacted before parliament’s session ends on Aug. 31, Japanese media said Kan’s Democratic Party was planning to vote as early as Aug. 28 to select a new leader.

Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who favours paying for bulging social security costs by raising the 5 percent sales tax, and like Kan sees reining in ballooning public debt as policy priority, is mooted as a leading contender.

Read the rest of the story: Japan starts countdown to PM Kan’s departure.


Pressure mounts on Japan PM to quit

Pressure mounted on Sunday for unpopular Prime Minister Naoto Kan to step down soon and even a senior member of his own party warned the lameduck leader not to stay in office much longer.

Kan’s early departure would ease the way for a coalition with the opposition that could enact a bill enabling the government to issue more debt to fund this year’s $1 trillion budget and pass an extra budget to pay for rebuilding the region devastated by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

But it is far from clear whether a temporary and likely unwieldy grouping could tackle longer term problems such as Japan’s massive public debt, already twice the $5 trillion economy.

"He (Kan) has clearly said he will resign … so it is now up to the prime minister to decide (the timing)," DPJ Secretary-General Katsuya Okada said.

"If that is very different from what most people think, I intend, as secretary general, to tell him to quit."

Read the rest of the story: Pressure mounts on Japan PM to quit amid coalition talk.

Japan PM faces party revolt

Japan’s centre-left Premier Naoto Kan, in power just seven months, faced a mutiny from a small group of party lawmakers on Thursday that threatened his reform agenda and weakened his leadership.

Sixteen lawmakers loyal to Kan’s internal party rival, scandal-tainted powerbroker Ichiro Ozawa, asked to leave the party’s grouping within parliament and signalled they may not support the party in votes on crucial laws.

The rebels said they were acting in protest at Kan’s lack of leadership and his failure to meet the original pledges of the Democratic Party of Japan, which swept to power in 2009, ending a half-century of conservative rule.

Read the rest of the story: Japan PM faces party revolt.

Kan expects a new democratic government in Egypt

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Saturday he expects a new government in Egypt to be formed democratically, following President Hosni Mubarak’s sudden resignation.

"We hope Egypt will play an even more constructive role in the Middle East," Kan told reporters at his official residence. "I want to salute the fact that protesters’ peaceful activities have led to a change in government."

Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara told reporters in Moscow, where he is meeting Russian officials, that Japan expects a stable new government to soon be established in Egypt.

"Japan continues to attach importance to its relationship with Egypt and is eager to strengthen it. We will keep offering various forms of cooperation to the country," he said.

Since Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said Friday in a televised speech that Mubarak had stepped down, Tokyo has been assessing the situation in the country, especially considering the safety of Japanese living there, government officials said.

Read the rest of the story: Kan to Cairo: Democracy, stability vital.

Hatoyama still Takes Heart!

Love him or hate him? Either way he’s a singing fool.

Hatoyama, the Singing Japanese PM is ready and set to go to the top of music charts after a pop song he recorded more than two decades ago was re-released.

The 62-year-old’s CD, Take Heart – Tobitate Heiwa no Tori yo (Take Heart – Fly, Dove of Peace), is in shops across the country.

The newly-elected leader recorded the song 22 years ago. According to Teichiku Entertainment the song was initially made into a record in the summer of 1987. About 100 records were produced back then and they were never sold, although Hatoyama presented them to his supporters in 1989.

“I very much like both the lyrics and melody. But I think I’m a better singer now,” Mr Hatoyama said, before the track’s re-release.

Source: SkyNews