Friday, August 26, 2011

Trainspotter, Cry-baby and War criminal walk into a bar

"FOR those who despair of Japan’s politics, the prospect of a leadership contest between a trainspotter, a cabinet minister who burst into tears in parliament and somebody who exonerates war criminals might sound depressing.

 None of the main hopefuls is without blemish. Mr Maehara blundered during a brief stint as opposition leader five years ago, and he quit as foreign minister in March over a fuss about an illegal donation from a Korean woman. Mr Noda lacks charisma, and recently issued a bizarre exoneration of war criminals. Banri Kaieda, the trade minister, did nothing for his chances when he broke down in tears under opposition attack.

 The new prime minister will be the sixth since Junichiro Koizumi—the last with either charisma or authority—stepped down in 2006. Mr Maehara is the best chance the DPJ has of somebody even approaching Mr Koizumi’s stature.

 What is more, in the pre-election campaigning, real policy issues are coming to the fore. In debt-strapped Japan, Mr Maehara thinks promoting growth should come before tax increases. Mr Noda says raising taxes is the priority. No candidate has yet explained how to rebuild Tohoku, devastated by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in March."

Sixth time lucky?

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