[EDITORIALS]Japan polls not all good for usJapan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party under Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has won a majority of seats in yesterday’s parliamentary elections. This is the first time in the past 15 years that the party has won a clear majority. Prime Minister Koizumi’s political gamble of dissolving the chamber after the upper house voted down a bill to privatize Japan Post has succeeded.
The nationwide election this time was like a drama titled “Koizumi’s Theatre.” Mr. Koizumi compressed the election issues into two slogans: “For the privatization of Japan Post is for reform,” and “Against the privatization plan is against reform.” He appealed to voters to give more support to his stalled reform efforts. He ejected lawmakers who opposed the privatization plan from his party and boosted the party’s popularity by nominating female candidates to replace them in their electoral districts. As a result, Mr. Koizumi has succeeded in bolstering his image as a reformist, while the opposition was painted as conservatives.
But other problems will arise after the election. There was almost no debate on ideologies and political platforms; there were only media-driven image struggles. But an artificial image can’t last long. After the elections, Mr. Koizumi and the Liberal Democratic Party will move further to the right and show stronger nationalistic tendencies abroad.
As he promised during the election campaign, he will evidently visit the Yasukuni Shrine again. Japan will strengthen its military capability through its partnership with the United States in a missile defense system, taking China and North Korea as its potential enemies. We also expect that the debate on a constitutional revision, focusing on the revision of the “no war” article, will be accelerated. Then the security of Northeast Asia will be disturbed and relations between Japan, South Korea and China will be affected.
South Korea-Japan relations after the election must be thought through clearly here. In this election, the traditional factionalism of Japanese politics played no role. Instead, it seems that the Liberal Democratic Party will be the “Koizumi Party” under the prime minister’s dominance. South Korea-Japan relations can no longer rely on behind-the-scenes negotiations between politicians as it has before. We desperately need better diplomacy with Japan.
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