Will Kan Have Hap?

With Yukio Hatoyama's exit on Wednesday (while his wife "was quietly stuffing a pillow with cotton" according to The Yomiuri, that naughty old rag) Japan welcomes yet another new prime minister. Mr. Naoto Kan was health minister in 1996, during a very interesting time in Japanese politics, helping victims of a medical company scandal expose what involved blood from U.S. prisoners sold by Green Cross Corp. He has been finance minister under Hatoyama and must know that neither country involved in the Okinawa military base debacle really can afford more massive military spending. Reuters thinks he will be more pragmatic but notes that

He will also face challenges on the diplomatic front, where his views are less well-known. He is likely to stick to the Democrats' basic line of seeking a more equal partnership with the United States and closer ties with Asia including China.

But implementing a deal clinched by Hatoyama with Washington to shift a controversial U.S. airbase to a less populous northern part of Okinawa will be a big challenge, given local opposition.

Hatoyama's decision to abandon a campaign promise to move the base off the southern island, host to half the U.S. forces in the country, was the last nail in his political coffin, helping to send his ratings below 20 percent.


Blogger Shisaku asks, What does the election of Naoto Kan as DPJ leader mean?

Having a PM coming from a district where the voters are almost all white collar salaried workers or members of the managerial classes will likely have a significant effect on economic policy. Urban and suburban voters tend to see government as a regulator and a guarantor of fairness rather than as a source of largess. Indeed, many urban and suburban tend to see the state through corporate lenses: when there is a shortfall in revenues or an economic slowdown, the correct policy response is cutbacks and restructuring, making darn sure that the only projects getting funded are the ones likely to have an economic return.
The question I would like to ask is if Mr. Kan can avoid the faith of the "hapless" Hatoyama.

hap

n.
1. Fortune; chance.
2. A happening; an occurrence.
intr.v. happed, hap·ping, haps
To happen.

[Middle English, from Old Norse happ; see kob- in Indo-European roots.]

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