Japanese media calls for stronger government to handle China, South Korea rows

PUBLISHED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 10:43am
UPDATED : Monday, 19 November, 2012, 4:07pm


Japan needs a strong government to handle rows with China and South Korea as the world is losing patience with the county’s revolving door politics, a major daily said on Sunday ahead of next month’s polls.

After six premiers in as many years, local media are hoping for the emergence of a stable government after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda called snap elections for December 16 which are widely expected to end his centre-left party’s three years in power.

The influential Asahi Shimbun said such instability would not help Japan resolve diplomatic problems such as its territorial rows with China, South Korea and Russia.

The Asahi commented that the rest of the world was not following the election so “fervently” as it did in 2009 when the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) toppled the long-ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party.

“It may possibly be because they think that the next government will be unstable with yet another short-lived prime minister,” the Asahi’s commentary said.

“Even in China, it is often heard said recently: ‘It is impossible to pursue serious diplomacy with Japan’.”

Tokyo and Beijing are locked in a row over the sovereignty of an archipelago in the East China Sea, while Japan and South Korea are in dispute over who owns a pair of islands in waters between the two countries.

Japan also has a longstanding dispute with Russia over the Kuril islands.

“If we don’t have a stable, strong government on our side, [other] territorial issues with Russia and South Korea as well as the problem of [US] military bases on Okinawa cannot find a way out,” the Asahi said.

The mass-circulation Yomiuri Shimbun blamed the Democratic Party’s “numerous cases of mismanagement” on its insistence on ending bureaucrats’ decades-long control over policy making.

“As a result, bureaucrats have passively waited for orders while important information failed to reach politicians,” the conservative daily said in an editorial.

The Yomuri noted that the DPJ had managed to achieve only 30 per cent of the 173 policy measures it pledged to achieve before taking power with promises to put emphasis on people’s well-being.

The DPJ’s approval rating dipped from 75 per cent when Yukio Hatoyama served as prime minister in 2009 to 24 per cent under Noda’s rule, according to the daily’s polls.

Japan’s next government will have “many things to do” to help refloat the domestic economy by dragging it out of deflation and stopping a decline in its international competitiveness, the business daily Nikkei said.