The Modern Tokyo Times

International news and neglected issues

DPJ to elect a new Prime Minister of Japan

DPJ to elect a new Prime Minister of Japan

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times


The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will elect a new prime minister and given the nature of events in Japan then this issue is a damp squib.  After all, with so many leaders coming and going it seems rather pointless to expect any real breathing space for the newly elected leader. 

According to the editorial of The Daily Yomiuri “Unless the DPJ has serious discussions on concrete measures to rebuild its relations with bureaucrats and opposition parties, it will not be able to revive itself as a ruling party.

The same editorial by The Daily Yomiuri published on August 28 also stressed that “In the diplomatic sphere, Kan failed to exercise any effective leadership over the planned relocation of the U.S. Marines Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture.  China and Russia in effect took advantage of his seeming lack of interest in state sovereignty to press their claims over the Senkaku Islands and northern territories, respectively.”

These comments, however, don’t belong to Naoto Kan because all these issues existed before he was elected and China and the Russian Federation have grown in power and strength in recent times. Also, the problem which exists in Okinawa relates to past political leaders in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), external pressure from America and the Hatoyama fiasco meant that Naoto Kan was constrained.

The main opposition party, the LDP, can’t ignore its political legacy and the last twenty years have seen one failed administration after another.  The Koizumi administration led to major isolation within northeast Asia because every regional nation apart from Taiwan was disillusioned by his pointless gestures over past history.  Therefore, at least Naoto Kan understands the delicate nature of northeast Asia and the changing reality with regards to China’s growing power.

Bread and butter issues are much more important and futile comments aimed at the Russian Federation is not in the interest of Japan.  Instead, Japan needs to work with the Russian Federation and diversify its energy policy and only Moscow can free Japan from over-reliance on energy from the Middle East.

Issues related to the pension system, low birth rate, helping families, greater de-centralization, taxation, health care system, and other areas, alongside the urgent need to help people who are suffering because of the March 11 earthquake/tsunami, is what the majority of people are concerned about.

The five candidates to become the next leader of Japan are Seiji Maehara (49), Sumio Mabuchi (51), Yoshihiko Noda (54), Banri Kaieda (62) and Michihiko Kano (69).  If Michihiko Kano is elected then it would be based on steadying the ship. The most popular choice according to opinion polls is Seiji Maehara. However, the donation scandal may prevent him from being elected by fellow DPJ member because of the closeness of his resignation which happened only six months ago.

Banri Kaieda is the main economist within the DPJ and given the nature of events then he would appear a realistic choice. Similar sentiments can be stated about Yoshihiko Noda who is the Finance Minister but some worry about his closeness to bureaucrats.

Sumio Mabuchi seems strong minded and he is mainly outside the power-politics of factionalism and this could provide a respite from factionalism within the DPJ.  However, the leading bigwig in the DPJ, Ichiro Ozawa, is supporting Banri Kaieda and Sumio Mabuchi may struggle to overcome the factional vote which will go against him.

Irrespective of who is elected, the most important thing is for the entire party to get behind the new leader but this is most unlikely to happen in the long-term.  The political system and the two main parties in Japan need to look at themselves seriously because they are not helping in stabilizing this nation.  – plesae visit 



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