Sunday, November 04, 2007

No end in sight of impasse in Japan' s politics

According to a Reuter report, Japan's leading newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun has observed that the political impasse between the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) that may jeopardise Japan's bilateral relations with the United States could last for the next ten years. PM Yasuo Fukuda will reportedly meet President George W. Bush on 16 Nov in Washington.

However, it is unlikely that the Bush-Fukuda meeting in Washington would overcome the political impasse in Tokyo in the near future because the strengthened Opposition in Japan under the leadership of DPJ's Ichiro Ozawa (left), which has just won the control the Upper House in a recent election, seems to be very determined in the defence of the stricter interpretation of Japan's postwar pacifist constitution.

The very fact that Fukuda's Minstry of Defense ordered Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force home from the Indian Ocean after envoys from 11 countries including the United States and Pakistan had already urged Tokyo on 27 September to extend its naval mission in support of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan clearly shows that cost-and-benefit calculation of domestic politics prevails over larger consideration of international relations and that external pressure does not work very well in the now politically polarised Japan.

Moreover, the United States itself is now quite divided between the Republican and Democratic parties on a wide range of foreign policy issues like Iraq, Iran, Turkey and other parts of the Middle East as well as Russia and China at a time when there is only about one more year left for President Bush's second and last term in the White House and when presidential candidates of both major parties in US are debating and refining their positions.

In any event, the dilemma of President Bush is that if he does not appear to be doing something firm and decisive to keep its Japanese ally on the correct line in such a critical relations as defense and security, the United States would be perceived by other allies, friends as well as enemies alike as lacking leadership but if that 'something firm and decisive' is widely seen or felt in the Japanese society to be 'overbearing' or 'inconsiderate', it could backfire as many more voters in Japan, especially those of the younger generations, may become critical of America and its friends in Japan who appear to be 'slavish'.

Japan halts refueling mission for US warships

US politics impacts on international relations


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