Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Japan has a new prime minister

Following in the footsteps of Hatoyama Ichiro, his grandfather, Hatoyama Yukio has been elected as Japan's ninety-third prime minister, a moment being compared by Hatoyama and others to great turning points in Japan's history.



Whether this moment proves worthy of such a description will depend on the new prime minister and his cabinet. He inherits a government badly in need of reform and a stagnant economy.

Good luck, Mr. Prime Minister. You'll need it.

9 comments:

Tanaka said...

He's ready to kick some bureaucratic ass. I hope he succeeds.

Chris said...

Hi, any idea why the story about Hatoyama being implicated in a contributions scandal breaks just on the day he is elected to be prime minister? At least I think it just broke now, on the 19.00 news on the NHK kokusaihousou there was no mention of it... Wasn't one of the reasons of keeping Ozawa outside the cabinet to avoid embarrassing questions in the Diet...?

http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0916/TKY200909160406.html

Bryce said...

The Hatoyama scandal broke ages ago. It was mostly ignored, I think, because people wanted the LDP to tank. Now that they are out of the way, let the games begin.

Chris said...

Sure, the report mentions it came to light on June 30, but it is quite peculiar that in earlier times the focus always seemed to be on Ozawa only and now that Hatoyama is prime minister the media suddenly shines the spotlight on a long-forgotten scandal of his...

Anonymous said...

Let's see how much time it takes until Ozawa will take over from Hatoyama. Most LDP people that I met were only waiting for that to happen... Let's see.

@Tanaka: I don't know what should be the problem with the bureaucrats. They are the main responsible who keep Japan running. Have you ever seen how lazy and incompetent the huge majority of the Japanese politicians are?

Tobias Harris said...

Chris,

When Bryce says ages ago, I think he means ages in terms of the 24-hour news cycle. The story broke earlier in the summer, the LDP tried to run with it before the Diet was dissolved but then stopped — but it remains unresolved. The possibility remains that Hatoyama could be implicated.

Naturally the timing of the issue's reemergence simply goes to show the relationship between the press and the new government. But it was going to come back sooner or later.

Chris said...

Tobias, d'accord.

Well, following Japanese political coverage has been a quite frustrating endeavour for me at times. That's why I'm quite appreciative of your analyses on your blog.

On a slightly different note (though related in the sense that it connects to my general sense of frustration with the Japanese media), are there any Japanese journalists that publish objective in-depth political analyses in Japanese language media? Maybe it's just because I'm outside the country, but I can't seem to find anything on the internet... I always get a fit when the announcer turns to the political expert on NHK to assess the situation and all he basically does is to repeat what the politicians have said...

Len Schoppa said...

I've put a list of the cabinet members, giving their seniority and party-lineage, on my JP Central website--in case any of your readers are interested. I also provide a chart showing the timing of the various party mergers that created the DPJ over the past 13 years. You can find these under my entry for the innauguration of the new cabinet at http://jpcentral.virginia.edu/.

Anonymous said...

@Chris

I agree that even when a reporter weighs in but offers little perspective, NHK has adopted an almost completely noninterpretive close-to-the-facts style of coverage.

The strongest political analysis and critical news reporting I've seen in Japan actually comes from commercial TV, particularly TV Asahi on a program called Hodo station (formerly News station). More talk, more 'value added' commentary that transcends the immediate facts of the piece and more focus on Cabinet ministries relative to bureaucrats. (Just as an aside, the downside being greater scandal 'police' coverage, and salacious local news briefs.)

In essence it boils down to the NHK budget having to be approved by the Diet. Which almost by definition from a process standpoint has made a mockery of public service in the pursuit of a 'clear understanding' (mollycoddling) with members of the LDP. It'll be interesting to watch any reaction on either side under the auspices of a more robust, divided government. Stay tuned !