Kan survives challenge by Ozawa
Article added on September 14, 2010
Japanese sheet music!
On early Tuesday morning, Japanese
Prime Minister Naoto Kan has survived a challenge by his Democratic Party
rival Ichiro Ozawa. He won by 721 points to 491 points. The weighted
votes do not fully translate the narrowness of the vote among people who
count on the national level. Among Democratic Party (DPJ) members of
Parliament, Kan only won 206 votes, with Ozawa garnering 200 votes.
Members of parliament remember that Ichiro Ozawa was the architect behind
the Democratic Party's win in the
2009 election. They care less about Ozawa's image as a shady politician
involved in corruption and party financing scandals and more about keeping
their seats thanks to a skillful strategist, powerbroker and backroom
In his tearful speech before the party vote in a Tokyo hotel, Naoto Kan
pledged to fix the Japanese economy by ending deflation and creating new
jobs. At the same time, the Prime Minister has to curb the gigantic Japanese
debt which stands at almost 200% of GDP. The debt alone could sink the
economy anytime. If creditors get nervous about the Japanese State being
able to service its debt - paying it back would take decades of high budget
surpluses and is out of sight anyway - Japanese interest rates will
“irritable Kan” (Ira-Kan) - the nickname is a reference to his
quick temper - is able to turn the Japanese economy around remains a big
question. Fiscal discipline has not been the trademark of Japanese politics.
Even the only prime minister with charisma, the colorful
Junichiro Koizumi, although he made some steps in the right direction,
has not been able to turn the situation around. Can the pale Naoto Kan
surpass himself? He is said to be both a pragmatist and a populist. Which
side of him will prevail? Fiscal consolidation should be on the agenda. In
the midst of the crisis and after the DPJ win, the electorate seemed to be
ready to swallow bitter pills. Has Kan already missed the moment to
implement new policies? What will Ozawa do?
Dull politicians such as
Shinzo Abe have helped sink the electoral appeal of the LDP. But what
finally made the
by the opposition in 2009 possible was less the brilliance of the Democratic
Party than the depth of the economic crisis in Japan. Many voters thought
that it could not get worse anyway. Why not give the opposition a chance?
The end of LDP rule was important for the renewal of Japanese politics and
even for the sake of democracy in the land of the rising sun, but now the
Democratic Party has to show that it can actually govern. So far,
Hatoyama (French article) has failed and Kan has not done much better.
The DPJ-led coalition has already lost its majority in the July 2010 Upper
House election, mainly thanks to a sales tax rise announced just before the
voters headed to the ballot boxes. Its time to turn the situation around.
May the fiscal conservative Naoto Kan please stand up!
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