Ozawa turns down Abe offer of talks on Antiterrorism Lawhttp://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070912TDY01005.htm
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa said Tuesday he would not accept a proposal from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to hold talks over a possible agreement to continue the Maritime Self-Defense Force's refueling operations in the Indian Ocean.
"Negotiations among the government, the ruling parties and opposition parties should be conducted in a manner visible to the public. Discussions in the Diet session will be enough [to exchange views between the two sides over the dispute]," the DPJ leader said at a press conference.
Ozawa also dismissed as unrealistic the ruling camp's idea of drawing up a bill to replace the Antiterrorism Law, which will expire Nov. 1, and getting it approved by the House of Representatives for a second time if it is rejected by the House of Councillors.
"The results of July's upper house election are the most recent wishes of the people. I believe it'll be very difficult [for the bill] to be passed for a second time [by the lower house with the approval of two-thirds or more of its members]," he said.
Ozawa said he would oppose the bill, arguing that the Self-Defense Forces' assistance for activities conducted by U.S. forces would unmistakably amount to the exercise of the right to collective self-defense.
(Sep. 12, 2007)
A Japanese Retreat?http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/12/AR2007091202263.html
The prime minister's resignation raises questions about Tokyo's commitment to its allies in Afghanistan.
Thursday, September 13, 2007; Page A18
THOUGH ABRUPT, the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was not surprising. Though he did improve relations with South Korea and China initially, Mr. Abe more recently inflamed feelings by denying that Japan had coerced Asian women into sexual slavery during World War II. Four of his cabinet ministers have been forced to resign amid charges of dishonesty or incompetence; another committed suicide. Small wonder that his Liberal Democratic Party absorbed a huge defeat in national elections two months ago, ceding control of the upper house of parliament to a coalition led by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).
Ordinarily, we'd welcome the opportunity for Japan to make a fresh start. But the circumstances of Mr. Abe's downfall make it a cause for concern. In recent days, he has come under attack from the DPJ and its leader, Ichiro Ozawa, for sending Japan's navy to the Indian Ocean in support of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. Japan's mission is limited to refueling allied ships. Given Japan's pacifist constitution and its militarist past, this deployment was bound to be controversial. But Mr. Ozawa has stepped beyond the bounds of serious debate by denying the legitimacy of the Afghanistan operation itself, announcing, absurdly, that "the U.S. started this war unilaterally without waiting for a consensus to be built in the international community."
Mr. Ozawa swore to use the DPJ's clout in parliament to prevent renewal of the special law that permits Japanese ships to support the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Until this week, Mr. Abe had sworn just as firmly that he would rather quit than lose on this issue. His resignation makes it clear that that was a pretty poor calculation. It also sends Mr. Ozawa and others the dangerous signal that exploiting anti-U.S. sentiment can be a winning gambit in Japanese politics.
Now that they no longer have Mr. Abe to kick around, there are many good reasons for Mr. Ozawa and his party to rethink their position. Japan's presence in the Indian Ocean is by no means trivial. But it is modest compared with the commitment of allies such as Canada, Germany and France, which have forces on the ground in Afghanistan, at some political cost to their governments. In 2001, when Japan first stepped up to help in Southwest Asia, it demonstrated that then-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi wanted Japan to assume international security responsibilities commensurate with its economic might. This is still the right policy. To reverse it now for short-term partisan political advantage would do lasting damage to American and international perceptions of Japan's reliability.
Japan's Abe takes one for the teamhttp://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/II14Dh01.html
By Brad Glosserman
While the decision by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to resign may end his political career, it is a brilliant tactical move: it robs the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) of political momentum and gives the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) a chance to reconnect with voters.
Abe announced his resignation on Wednesday afternoon in Tokyo. Despite widespread agreement that he should have resigned after his party's rout in the July election to the House of
Councilors, the decision still stunned many, especially since it came only two days after he had vowed to "stake his job" on extending the Maritime Self-Defense Forces' (MSDF) mandate to refuel vessels in the Indian Ocean.
Much depends on whom the LDP picks to succeed Abe. The party is determined to ensure voters will opt for an older, known quantity, even though that may herald a return to the old LDP and a retreat from the dynamism of the Junichiro Koizumi years.
Traditionally, a Japanese prime minister would have resigned after his party took the beating the LDP received in the July parliamentary vote. That Abe didn't step down as expected was taken as proof that the prime minister truly had a "tin ear" for politics. While he pledged to refocus in his new administration, the daily drip of scandals that forced the resignation of cabinet ministers and other party officials quickly ended any hopes for a fresh start. (There are now reports that Abe himself is involved in financial wrongdoing.) After a brief reversal, his new cabinet's approval ratings had been sliding.
Ichiro Ozawa, president of the DPJ, has exploited every misstep to realize his goal of forcing the LDP from power. His brilliant electioneering (along with the government's blunders) produced the July victory. Ozawa has vowed to fight the extension of the Anti-Terrorism Special Measures Law, which permits the MSDF to refuel North Atlantic Treaty Organization and other coalition naval vessels in the Indian Ocean, to bring the government down and force a general election. Thus far, the wily opposition leader has outfoxed the government.
Abe's resignation changes the dynamic. Stepping down eliminates a lightning rod for criticism. Giving up the Prime Minister's Office is the sort of sacrifice Japanese expect from their leaders. It changes the focus of the political debate from Abe to Ozawa, who many believe is making a technical argument against a deployment that he would have supported under other circumstances.
The MSDF is refueling ships from many countries (only 30% of the fuel has gone to US vessels this year), supporting a multinational force that is struggling to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, and making precisely the type of international contribution that Ozawa fought hard for in the first Gulf War.
Abe's retiring from the scene means that Ozawa's arguments, rather than Abe's behavior, will be the focus of debate. (The speed with which Abe reversed gears also feeds speculation that a deal may have been struck with the DPJ on the MSDF issue; such backroom maneuvers are not unknown in Japan.)
Much will depend on whom the LDP selects as the new prime minister; the vote is scheduled for next Wednesday. The front-runner is LDP general secretary and former foreign minister Taro Aso. He is viewed as a more experienced politician and has the gravitas for the office.
He also made several verbal gaffes while serving as foreign minister, and his views on foreign policy are close to Abe's, which may be too conservative for many Japanese. He also belongs to a small faction, which means he may not be able to muster sufficient support among party heads to win the office.
If the LDP is looking for a figure who can reassure voters alarmed by Abe's youth and outlook, then former chief cabinet secretary Yasuo Fukuda, 71, may get the nod. He is rooted in the LDP's more pacifist traditions and would project the competence and seniority that voters seek.
And if the Upper House result was more of a vote against the LDP than a vote for the DPJ, then the presence of a more statesmanlike figure in charge, coupled with (residual) sympathy for Abe, could be all Japanese voters need to stick with the party they know and have historically trusted. (Fukuda is also likely to get support from party leaders who prefer that party posts be allocated the traditional way - by decision among elders, rather than by an empowered party president as Koizumi did.)
The foreign-policy implications of Abe's decision are likely to be muted. No prime minister - even Aso - would embrace an openly confrontational policy toward China, absent a provocative gesture by Beijing.
Tokyo still seeks better relations with Seoul, but there is agreement that top-level initiatives will have to await the results of the South Korean presidential election in December. Abe's resignation could open the door to movement in relations with Pyongyang, which is much needed as other components of the six-party process move forward.
Nor would relations with the United States be hurt. Japanese security decision-makers and analysts remain committed to the alliance: external developments have underscored the vital role the US plays in Japan's security. And even though Ozawa has picked a fight over the Indian Ocean deployment, he, like most Japanese, believes the country can and should do more internationally - the debate is over the terms of that contribution. Progress in relations with North Korea would help reduce frictions between Tokyo and Washington in the six-party process.
The US will have to be prepared for indecision and perhaps even paralysis among decision-makers in Tokyo on a host of issues. Patience will be essential. In one sense, Japan is entering uncharted territory with the opposition ascendant and in control of one house of the Diet (parliament). At the same time, however, this situation may result in a Japan that is all too familiar: hesitant in its policy, insular, slow to respond, and dominated by bureaucrats.
Or Koizumi may come back, in which case all bets are off.
Brad Glosserman (email@example.com) is executive director of Pacific Forum CSIS and co-editor of Comparative Connections, the quarterly electronic journal of East Asian bilateral relations.
「小沢一郎（DPJの理事長）は、力から自民党を強制する彼のゴールを認識するために、あらゆる踏み誤りを利用しました。彼の素晴らしい選挙運動（政府の大失敗とともに）は、７月の勝利をもたらしました。 オザワはAnti-Terrorism Special Measures Lawの拡張と戦うと誓いました。そして、それは許します インド洋で北大西洋条約機構と他の連立海軍船に燃料補給するMSDF（政府を倒して、総選挙を強制するために）。ここまでは、狡猾な野党指導者は、政府を出し抜きました。」（翻訳ロボット yahoo！）と書かれている箇所がある。
September 13, 2007http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/leading_article/article2441661.ece
After Abe, a Lincoln
Japan is running out of chances to make its voice heard
Japan seems condemned always to be one crucial step away from taking a place at the top table of international diplomacy, handicapped by timidity in raising its voice abroad, and by a crippling parochialsim at home. The sudden resignation of its Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, gives the world a fresh excuse not to revise its assessment of Japan as an economic giant with the political ambition of a minnow; as a country that craves credibility as a superpower, yet which slinks in the background when world leaders meet, fearful of raising its voice above a mousy squeak lest it attract uninvited attention or, worse, criticism.
Rumours say that poor health may have accelerated Mr Abe’s departure. A more likely catalyst is that he has been politically sickly for some time. Mr Abe has struggled to regain his political footing since losing control of the Upper House in elections in July. Reaching out for the traditional lifebelt of his Liberal Democratic Party, Mr Abe responded to that humiliation by drafting into his cabinet strongmen from the LDP’s ancien régime ― the backroom powerbrokers and pork-barrellers who have kept the party in office and power almost without interruption for more than half a century. But rather than being seen as a sign of strength, this capitulation to the Old Guard who smother any move towards modernity was read as confirmation of Mr Abe’s political bancruptcy. That Mr Abe’s showman predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, established himself as a man of the LDP ― but a man also able to act independently beyond the party’s leash ― turned out not to be evidence of how much the LDP had changed from being a party where the top jobs are rotated between its vying factions by a feudal system of musical chairs, but as a flamboyant aberration that has served only to reinforce the staidness of Japan’s political norm.
It is typical of this retreat by the LDP to its familiar terrain that Taro Aso, promoted to secretary-general and kingmaker in last month’s reshuffle, is himself emerging as the man most likely to be crowned the next king. That is how the LDP likes to work, unwilling to trade a cosy parochialism that guarantees jobs for the sons, and grandsons, of ministers, for a global voice that reflects its status as the second-biggest economy. Instead Japan has a profile as thin as rice paper. And now Japan may be about to blow its chance of glory for ever, as China races to eclipse it economically, enabling it to seize the seat at the top table that Japan has been too slow to embrace.
Mr Abe’s record has been stained by a familiar carnival of ministers putting their feet in their mouths, financial scandals, Cabinet resignations, the suicide of a minister and a bungle over pension records. Where there has been a fumbling lurch towards internationalism it has, paradoxically, spawned strains of nationalistic fervour.
But the policy that has hastened Mr Abe’s end ― his vow to extend emergency measures, due to expire in November, which allow Japan to assist Nato’s operations in Afghanistan by refuelling ships in the Indian Ocean ― is the very sort of policy that burnishes Japan’s reputation abroad. That Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, has pledged to block any extension only confirms his unsuitability as a voice of Japanese statesmanship.
Mr Abe’s tumble from office should not be a signal for Japanese politics to retreat into drowsy business as usual. It should be a wake-up call for the LDP to redouble its efforts find a leader who is creative, capable and contemporary.
毎日新聞 2007年9月14日 3時00分