Japan must look beyond its internal problems

By Wang Ping
0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, September 30, 2010
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Many Japanese media outlets have criticized Japan's government for having "failed to stick to its original stance" after Tokyo released Zhan Qixiong, the captain of the Chinese fishing trawler, on Sept 25. Zhan and his crew were illegally detained by Japan after their fishing boat collided with two Japan Coast Guard ships near the Diaoyu Islands, which since ancient times have been part of China's territory. The crew returned home earlier.

The opposition parties in Japan may take the media's attack forward against Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who has survived a leadership challenge from his party rival, Ichiro Ozawa, former head of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). This doesn't augur well for the Sino-Japanese relations, at least in the near future.

On Monday, Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara summoned Chinese ambassador to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, to enquire about the four Japanese, who have been detained at Shijiazhuang in China's Hebei province because of "national security". This is a sign that Japan's cabinet could take a more hawkish stance against China under mounting domestic pressure.

Despite the major setback in the election to the Upper House of the Japanese Parliament (or Diet) in July, Kan got the support of a large number of his DPJ members in the party's presidential election on Sept 14. He won handsomely, securing 721 votes against Ozawa's 491. But when it came to DPJ parliament members, he had a thin margin of victory - 206 to 200 votes - against Ozawa. Given the intra-party rivalry in the DPJ, Kan can hardly feel comfortable even after the victory. Moreover, he faces the tough task of not only uniting the administration, but also his faction-ridden party.

After the election to the Upper House, the DPJ dominates the Lower House and the opposition the Upper House. In such a case, a bill passed by the Lower House could probably be vetoed by the Upper House. On the other hand, divisions within the ruling DPJ is widening. The list of newly appointed Cabinet members shows Kan has ignored Ozawa's supporters. He has not only retained the anti-Ozawa "Seiji Maehara's faction", but also elevated its status.

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