[Letters] With Kan weak, Dokdo textbook issue returnsAn internal rift has begun showing in the Democratic Party of Japan.
After winning the election at the end of August 2009, the Naoto Kan administration announced a series of key pledges including child allowance, but it is now moving to scrap them.
Against the cabinet, a faction was formed inside the Democratic Party with lawmakers close to Ichiro Ozawa.
Voices rose inside the party that a Democratic Party that does not keep promises is no different from the Liberal Democratic Party. Even Kan’s allies criticized the prime minister.
Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama also openly criticized Kan for having destroyed the Democratic Party’s platform. Sixteen Democratic Party lawmakers who oppose Kan’s plan also launched a group and pressured Kan to resign.
The Japanese people worry that Kan will also step down, following suit of the prime ministers who have resigned less than one year into their terms.
The situation began with the Abe administration in 2007.
It’s been only a year and half for the DP to lead the administration, but signs of collapsing are already showing.
Ozawa, former leader of the DP, is overtly criticizing Kan. Rumors spread that he started implementing a scenario of a political restructuring by allying his faction inside the DP with the Liberal Democratic Party and the Your Party.
The public, however, is not favorable to Ozawa, who is not free from corruption scandals. The internal strife of the DP actually provided the reasons for the public disapproval of the administration.
Kan insists that he won’t step down. Because there is no imminent election, he cannot say that the DP needs a new prime minister for DP’s victory.
There is nearly no possibility for Kan to dismiss the House of Representatives for a new general election. If he does, the Democrats will likely lose.
Under this situation, Kan has no choice but to try to pump up his approval rating while holding on to his post. But, the possibility for a higher approval rating is low.
Kan is repeating the strategy of the former Prime Minister Taro Aso, before the Liberal Democratic Party handed over the administration to the Democratic Party.
And that strategy had ended in a bitter defeat for the Aso administration. As a result, the Japanese government is now paying no attention to foreign affairs and the people’s livelihood, while its approval rating plummets due to the factional fights inside the DP.
At the end of March, social science textbooks for middle schools which call Dokdo Island a Japanese territory are scheduled to be approved.
The approval will likely be handled by working-level officials as the ruling party is swamped by the political crisis.
Textbooks that argue the Japanese territorial right over the island in strong expressions are likely to be approved.
As the Japanese government fails to perform its role, we will face a reality of regressing Korea-Japan relations.
The Korean government and people must realize that the Democratic Party of Japan is not paying attention to foreign affairs at this time and prepare to counter the textbook issue properly.
Professor of Japanese studies
at Sejong University