Tuesday, August 30, 2011


"Mr Noda inherits a nuclear crisis, a north-eastern coastal area devastated by the tsunami, tens of thousands of people yet to be permanently rehoused, an economy in recession staggering under the weight of its public debt, soaring health and social security costs, a divided parliament, a party in crisis and a country that lost faith in its leaders to govern.

It could be that the man of whom so little is expected succeeds where others have failed. Mr Noda yesterday stressed his humble origins to a political class which hold seats as a matter of family tradition. But the enigma of Japan's inability to find a leader the country can rally around remains. For some analysts, the lack of an entity that can hold true authority over the bureaucrats and industrialists who run the country is a function of modern Japan's continued dependence on Pax Americana, which anyway is a commodity in short supply. But that does not wholly explain the emergence of popular leaders like Junichiro Koizumi who managed to struggle above the fray. For others, there are structural reasons why the office of prime minister is undervalued – its relatively low salary and short term. That Americans had no clear understanding of the dynamics of Japanese power that led to the Pacific war, and that a post-war country characterised by weak politicians and strong bureaucrats suited Washington's military interests, are not now sufficient explanations for the crisis of Japanese leadership.

The prospects for Mr Noda's political longevity are not bright, but the first and most basic task he faces is to seize control of his party and his government."

Japan: sifting through the muck - Guardian

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