Japan: Fukuda Slated to Be Next PM

In the Liberal Democratic Party election held on Sunday the 24th, Fukuda Yasuo defeated opponent Aso Taro, and is slated to become the next Prime Minister. He will follow Abe Shinzo, who resigned two weeks ago.

This marks an important change. Fukuda is generally known as a moderate within the LDP, and thus his election is a change from the administrations of Abe and his predecessor Koizumi Junichiro, who followed a generally conservative, market-oriented reform program. In the Upper House election held this July, the LDP was badly beaten by the opposition Democratic Party of Japan. Thus, it seems that a period of fluidity has arrived in Japanese politics.

Needless to say, the election of Fukuda is a major topic for bloggers as for the media in general. One of the big issues that Fukuda will deal with is the extension of the Anti-Terror Law, which permits Japan to participate in the US “War against Terror.” A recent report that Japan was (in opposition to the law) refuelling US aircraft carrier heading to Iraq will put more sparks into the emerging fire.

Blogger Jun Okumura, writing in English, talked about the main issue that Fukuda will have to take up, the counter-terrorism extension bill.

The first item on the Prime Minister to-do list is, of course, pushing a counter-terrorism extension bill. Mr. Fukuda has steadfastly refused to say that he'll resort to the supermajority override. I firmly believe that this is merely part of the LDP charm offensive, beginning right after the Upper House election, when Nobutaka Machimura and other party worthies talked up the DPJ and even hinted at a Grand Coalition.

Conservative blogger Hakase no Hitorigoto summarized a right-wing position on Fukuda's election, seeming to express dismay as a “step backward” that Fukuda will probably take:


On the other hand, Fukuda has a quite different stance from Abe concerning the right of collective self-defense, and it will be impossible to avoid conflict within the ruling party on this. Abe's existence itself has become like a “bump on the head of the LDP,” and it even seemed possible that the LDP would lose power.

Thus, for conservatives, it seems that Fukuda represents a danger that Japan will move leftward from the Koizumi/Abe line. From the other side, Blooger Aoki Naoto, talks about his excitement about what may come next in Japanese politics.


Even I, who am usually blase about politics as usual, am exciting about the coming historical confrontation betwen Fukuda Yasuo and Ozawa Ichiro of the Democratic Party of Japan. It will be politics without the presence of the people, but the winner of the contest will have a big effect on the lives of the people.

Finally, Hosaka Nobuto, a Diet member from the opposition Social Democratic Party, expresses the lack of enthusiasm that many feel regarding Fukuda's election, and in particular his thoroughbred upbringing (he will be the first second-generation Prime Minister ever):

「帰ってきた自民党内閣」「壊れなかった自民党内閣」なのか。また、親子で総理というのも、世襲政治家だらけの日本の停滞した政界の空気を物語る。その前 の安倍総理も岸信介の孫、今回の対抗馬だった麻生太郎幹事長も吉田茂の孫となれば、今回の自民党の選択は「総理の子か、孫か」しかなかったことになる。

The Fukuda cabinet, which will be elected tomorrow, is no surprise, but rather represents a division of positions among the factions of the LDP, and this could be easily predicted. And it seems we've seen this kind of cabinet before.Is it really a “revival of the LDP” or “a cabinet from an unbroken LDP”? In addition, this second generation prime minister is symptomatic of the void in Japanese politics, where political positions are inherited. The former prime minister Abe was the grandson of former Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke, and his opponent, Aso Taro, is a grandson of former Prime Minister Yoshida Shigeru. Ths choice this time was between the “son of a former prime minister” and the “grandson of a former prime minister.”

1 comment

  • Mike Plugh

    I tend to agree with Hosaka-san’s assessment of the reality in Japanese government. A transformative era in Japanese politics will have to come from an awakened and energized public determined to replace the politics of succession with a politics of the people. The current state of affairs is similar to the United States electing Bush I and Bush II, or Mr. Clinton and Mrs. Clinton. If you read behind the lines in either country’s political lineage, you will see the same names and faces for generation upon generation. There is truly nothing new under the sun.

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