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NEW JAPANESE GOVERNMENT: Portrait features

NEW JAPANESE GOVERNMENT: Portrait features

New Japanese government distinguished itself with new political scandals even before it started working properly. New Japanese Minister of Economics Yoshio Hachiro stayed at his post for merely 9 days. Having a peculiar sense of humor, he dubbed the radioactively polluted Fukushima prefectures the "death cities" and while meeting with the journalists after attending Fukushima-1, he greeted them, saying "I’m going to infect you with radiation now!" and pretending to embracing one of the journalists.

Anthropogenic disaster at the Fukushima power plant took place at the extreme cool-point down in the Russo-Japanese relationship (relationship with Naoto Kan’s government to be precise). It’s unclear what have the latter confrontation led to, but the 03/11 events made Japan, Russia and the rest of the world anxious about the matters that have nothing to do with foreign-policy tensions whatsoever.

Today the situation around Fukushima-1 has more or less stabilized and Japan got the new government. It’d be only natural to have a closer look at people, who are to lead Japan, study the political background as far as possible and try to understand, which way will Japan move and how will its relations with the Russian Federation turn out.

The entire retirement of the former government and election of the new one went under the sign of Fukushima. The former parliament session lasted for 220 days, which is apparently exceptional — it was prolonged to meet the requirements of Prime Minister’s voluntary retirement: relative stabilization of the Fukushima situation and adoption of a number of bills that Kan insisted upon. We’re talking about the parliament decisions about allotting extra budget funds for restoring the region that suffered from an earthquake, tsunami and a radioactive contamination, issue of state bonds covering the state budget deficit and a separate bill on the development of recyclable sources of energy and alternative energy. Let us note that the latter bill will inevitably influence the positions of the Japanese energy companies, as long as it obliges them to buy the energetic surpluses from the future owners of solar batteries, wind turbines, geo-thermal and tidal power plants.

The bills, initiated by Naoto Kan were approved and adopted. Then, according to the agreement, on the 30th of August Kan’s government retired, albeit still doing its duties until the creation of a new cabinet.

New Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko is considered a hardball politician and talented financier, not tended to parading his opportunities. Keidanren (Japan Business Confederation, founded in 1946), a mighty institution, uniting the major companies, industrial unions and economic groups — sort of a chief staff for the Japanese business — was the first to respond to his election. Besides the aforementioned, Keidanren is also a think tank, studying a wide variety of internal- and foreign-economical matters, developing recommendations for the government and maintains cooperation with the foreign businesses. Usually Japanese government treats Keidanren recommendations as the opinion of a large Japanese business and takes them into consideration, while developing a general economic policy.

Keidanren support, rendered to the new Prime Minister, seems to be absolute and unreserved. Answering the journalist’s question about the difference between Noda’s and ex-Prime Minister Kan’s government, Keidanren head Hiromasa Yonekura said: the difference is what rests above the neck — precise mind.

However, Kan and Noda are bound by the longtime friendship — Noda Yoshihiko held a responsible post of Minister of Finance. Both politicians belong to the same partisan alignment and are considered the "nation’s protégé", sort of a psychological antipode to Ozawa-Hatoyama group, representing the concentration of the century-old political clans. However, just like in Abraham Lincoln’s case, Noda’s "innocence" is no more than a game of public image, making a deceptive impression.

So, Noda Yoshihiko is a son of an distinguished officer from the airborne brigade № 1, which is considered an elite unit and is intended to operate in Tokyo and the capital district during the subversions, mass riots etc. Noda Yoshihiko graduated from the politics and economics faculty at Waseda University. He used to work as a postman, read household gas meters and had a part-time job as a tutor. After graduation from Waseda he was accepted into the prestigious Matsushita Institute of Government and Management, an institution founded by Panasonic founder Konosuke Matsushita that grooms future civic leaders of Japan. University founder hoped for 30% of its graduates to become civil servants later. In case of Noda Yoshihiko these plans have actually come true.

At 29 Noda was elected as a deputy of the Chiba’s Lower House District — at that, he was promoted by a local initiative group. Noda was his own PR-manager — looking through the 30-year-old chronicles one may see the young man single-handedly making the round of his district, exchanging bows with its citizens, explaining his plans and vision, asking people about their lives and begging to support him.

This agitation was successful. After the victory, Noda Yoshihiko entered the now-defunct New Japan Party and became a national parliament MP. When the New Japan Party was transformed into the Democratic Party of Japan, he naturally became its member, too.

Being a Minister of Finance, Noda carried out an outmost tough policy: he decisively pushed the Central Bank and private banks towards the complete credit transparency and financial discipline. He initiated several investigations of the corruption cases and did everything he could to convince the government to raise the taxes and reduce spending — including the defense spending with its funding of American military bases.

When in May of 2011 TEPCO record-breaking losses of ¥1.247 trillion ($15.28 billion) came to the public knowledge, threatening the payments on the victims’ suits, Noda negotiated out of his skin but he talked the private companies into funding of the rescue operations and the obstruction clearing. Temporary premises construction was entirely and timely paid with the budget funds. Noda the Financier also initiated the currency interventions in order to stabilize the Japanese currency exchange rates.

Having coordinated that decision with Naoto Kan, Noda Yoshihiko went for DPJ leadership as far back as in the beginning of August. At first, Noda didn’t look like leader at all. Analysts forecasted the victory of Banri Kaieda, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, especially when the Ozawa-Hatoyama group — the most influential and numerous faction of more than 140 MPs — supported him.

As for the "People’s Choice Award", ex-Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, well-known fighter for the "northern territories", could’ve claimed it his. Curiously enough, while waging his election campaign, Maehara repented of excessive foreign-policy radicalism and promised softening his position in future.

Minister of Agriculture, Kano Michihiko (whose 70% earmarked Ministry makes rather a peculiar department of the Japanese Ministry of Finance) and Sumio Mabuchi, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, leading the youth wing of the DPJ also ran for the sake of variety.

According to the results of the first vote, Banri Kaieda won with a large outvote. He was supported by 143 votes of Ozawa-Hatoyama bloc; Noda Yoshihiko was second with 112 votes of Kan’s bloc. Seiji Maehara with 57 votes of old politicos, "LDP turncoats". Results of Kano Michihiko and Sumio Mabuchi weren’t even worth mentioning.

Yet, 143 weren’t enough for the election. According to the Japanese legislation, Prime Minister-to-be has to have more than 230 of them, which is why it was decided to carry out an open live vote. That’s when it all happened — afterwards it will be dubbed an internal partisan coup. After a short council, all the candidates, headed by Maehara, sacrificed their votes in favor of Noda. Thus, it was quite apparently demonstrated that a lot of people are discontent with the traditional influence of Ozawa dynasty. That’s how Noda Yoshihiko became the 95th Prime Minister of Japan.

75-year-old Azuma Koshiishi, № 2 in the DPJ ticket, who used to be close to Ozawa and fiercely opposed Naoto Kan and Noda Yoshihiko, was elected the Secretary General. This was a token of respect for the losers. Parliament Committee was headed by Hirofumi Hirano, close associate to ex-Prime Minister Hatoyama, although analysts consider him a potential ally of Noda Yoshihiko. This is a yet another gift to the lost, yet impressive enemy — at that Noda is hardly at loss because of that. DPJ political committee was headed the № 3 in the ticket, Seiji Maehara. This post is usually dubbed the "pre-Prime Minister" and Maehara is definitely preparing himself for the next political move. That can’t but cause anxiety for the future development of Russo-Japanese relations.

New Japanese government distinguished itself with new political scandals even before it started working properly. New Japanese Minister of Economics Yoshio Hachiro stayed at his post for merely 9 days. Having a peculiar sense of humor, he dubbed the radioactively polluted Fukushima prefectures the "death cities" and while meeting with the journalists after attending Fukushima-1, he greeted them, saying "I’m going to infect you with radiation now!" and pretending to embracing one of the journalists. Such liveliness happened to be a sufficient ground for retirement and the Ministry of Economics was headed by Yukio Edano, former Chief Cabinet Secretary in Kan’s government.

Yukio Edano has also distinguished himself as an activist during the complex elimination of Fukushima-1 catastrophe consequences and seems to be an appropriate Minister of Economics-to-be — especially given the fact the Ministry of Economy is charge of an entire Japanese nuclear industry. Considering the nucleophobia that seized the masses, it is to be drastically reformed, I think.

By Andrey Polevoy

 

 

 

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