Japan's New Leadership

It took Japan decades, but voters finally got fed up with the entrenched ruling clique and threw it out of office. The landslide election victory for the Democratic Party of Japan was the worst defeat for the rival Liberal Democratic Party in more than 50 years. We hope this stunning rout presages the end of economic decline and political stagnation, but that will take real leadership, not just trading one group of politicians for another.


The first challenge is getting the economy out of its worsening crisis. Japan, crippled by recession throughout the 1990s, is about to lose its standing as the world’s second-largest economy, to China. The economy, projected to contract 6 percent this year, is among the world’s worst performers.


Although constrained by a public debt approaching 100 percent of its gross domestic product and a fiscal deficit hovering around 10 percent of G.D.P., Japan needs to do more to stimulate domestic demand — to deal with the immediate emergency and diminish its historical dependence on exports as an economic engine. This requires maintaining fiscal stimulus. It also requires a longer-term strategy that encourages spending by Japanese households. The Democrats’ plans do not yet amount to a strategy that could rebalance the economy and put it on a path of domestically focused growth.


Yukio Hatoyama, who is expected to be the next prime minister, wants a more equal alliance with the United States. Some of his policy proposals are reasonable, but others are cause for concern. We are eager to hear more details. The United States needs a responsible strategic partner committed to a strengthened alliance.


One concern: Mr. Hatoyama’s suggestion that Japan not renew the mandate for its ships on a refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of United States military operations in Afghanistan. President Obama is implementing a new Afghan strategy. Japan should continue its risk-free mission, at least through next spring.


One good sign: Mr. Hatoyama’s pledge not to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, a symbol of Japan’s wartime past. Visits by some of his predecessors stirred damaging tensions with China and South Korea.


Some wonder if the Liberal Democratic Party can survive this loss. We hope it — or some successor — does. Every democracy needs a vigorous and responsible opposition to give voters a choice — just like the Democratic Party finally gave the voters in this election.


posted by せるしん at 16:09| Comment(0) | TrackBack(0) | ニュースから | このブログの読者になる | 更新情報をチェックする




認証コード: [必須入力]