Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Foreign Minister Maehara Timidly Clings to Secretary Clinton for Support

Why don't the Kan administration and Foreign Minister Maehara contact China directly instead of clinging to the US government and letting it do everything? Isn't Japan's government just becoming the kind that has to consult the US on everything before it can make a single move? It's losing its ability to independently solve problems.

When US Secretary of State Clinton said that the Senkaku Islands issue probably falls under the purview of Article 5 of the US-Japan security pact, Maehara looked relieved.

Article 5 of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the US says that the US is obliged to provide defense for Japan. Put simply, it's as if the US said, "Don't worry if China does something to you. We'll be there to protect you."

The problem is that once the dispute in the Senkakus arose, the Japanese government did not act in a way that would lead to diplomatic resolution. It just looks like Japan is clinging to the US.

The Japanese government needs to take action so that it can use its own diplomatic strength to resolve this dispute with China.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Kan's Handling of Human Affairs Lacks Grace

Too many tricks, too little sincerity leave a lasting scar

Prime Minister Kan's handling of human affairs is undignified. He comes off as tricky and insincere. Take the case of Chief Secretary Okada for example. It's said that Kan really wanted Okada as his chief secretary, but for the sake of the party he first reached out to Kawabata-san. Once Kawabata turned down the offer, Kan chose his true favorite, Okada. If this is true, it shows how the process under Kan lacks dignity.

Within the Democratic Party of Japan, many think that Kan expected to be turned down when he offered to make Ichiro Ozawa and Azuma Koshiishi acting party leaders. He took the step to make it seem like he was doing his duty, the thinking goes. He cuts off the Hatoyama group and isolates the Ozawa faction. It's a dirty strategy. The person with the most power and authority needs to refrain from makeshift moves.

The newspapers report that the man at the center of this all-encompassing anti-Ozawa push is Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku. Really? I'd like to look into this if I have the opportunity. The mass media may be trying to start a confrontation.

At any rate, Kan's approach lacks grace. It's all smoke and mirrors. The mass media broadcasts his moves with great interest, but the reporters lack dignity too. I think it's time to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you keep doing what you're doing, interparty squabbling will go on and on. The nation won't trust a party like that. The party will just fall apart. I'd like our politicians to start showing some spine.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Gods of Incompetence

I heard an executive at a small company cry out: "If the government, Finance Ministry and central bank, with their image of extreme incompetence, are entrusted with Japan's economy, we're in for a collapse." The message is clear: Get to work on measures to boost the economy!

Recently, I listened to what an executive of a small business had to say. Here's a sample:

"It's as if Prime Minister Kan, former Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa, Finance Minister Noda and Bank of Japan Governor Shirakawa know nothing about the lives of the Japanese people. They are very insensitive to the worsening economic conditions. Too insensitive, in fact. Those of us running small businesses are in life-or-death mode now. The cash is not flowing. The banks aren't providing financing. It's like they have the attitude that if we fail, we fail.

"Prime Minister Kan doesn't know anything about the lives of the Japanese people. All Finance Minister Noda talks about is fiscal reconstruction. I don't get the impression that they are trying to improve our situations and help the people out. Ichiro Ozawa keeps talking about the manifesto. If that manifesto was enforced, Japan's economy would be brought to its knees. It needs to be rethought.

"But the worst of all is BOJ Governor Shirakawa. He is the God of Incompetence. When I see his face on TV, I quickly turn the set off. He's completely unreliable and ice cold. It's as if he only thinks about himself and the BOJ. I wish he'd make the central bank work for the people. If not, I wish he would step aside."

Kan, Ozawa, Noda and especially Shirakawa, if you don't have the will to fulfill the duties of the position you hold, now would be a good time to step aside. I would like to ask Shirakawa to voluntarily step down from his post at the Bank of Japan.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The DPJ Needs to Shed Its Arrogance

Party has inflated view of self since the Hatoyama government took over in September 2009

Over the course of the past year, the Democratic Party of Japan has succumbed to arrogance and selfishness.

The DPJ's arrogance surfaced when then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama began discussing his united party theory.

Hatoyama was after his own rehabilitation. It was the ultimate expression of the "me-ism" of the party -- Hatoyama's brand of egoism. It's clear that as the former premier worked to strengthen the Ozawa-Hatoyama-Kan triumvirate, he was really working to rehabilitate his own position. When his government stepped down in the first half of June, he announced that he would not run in the next election, choosing to retire. "As someone who has experience being prime minister, I will not offer comments on the current state of politics," he said at the time. But Hatoyama later withdrew this comment. The troika system was supposed to be the first step for Hatoyama's return, but the strategy failed.

The troika system was responsible for betraying the people's expectation for regime change. If the DPJ doesn't destroy and get out from under this system, it has no future. Hatoyama confused the Futenma issue on Okinawa; former party chief Ichiro Ozawa's money scandal was ignored by the Diet; and Prime Minister Naoto Kan continues to obfuscate on the consumption-tax issue. These three lost the trust the people placed in a DPJ government. Hatoyama's aim was to perpetuate this troika. It's perfectly natural for an idea inflated with so much conceit to fail.

Backroom politics came up with the perpetual troika idea. At one point, the party leaders discussed doing away with party elections. That would result in the 34,000 party members having their authority stripped from them. Democracy within the party would have been trampled upon. And it would have brought about the perpetual rule of shadow boss Ozawa. The DPJ needs to fight this aggressively. Party members need to swear off the arrogance and conceit that emerged when the DPJ took power in 2009 and pledge to fix the party.