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Japan prime ministers haunted by ever-present media

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Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama at a news conference on April 28, 2010. (REUTERS/Toru Hanai)


JAPAN-POLITICS/It’s not unusual for a politician whose popularity has slumped to want to avoid the media. But for Japan’s premiers it’s not just a question of keeping critical newspaper editorials out of sight.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, just like his five predecessors, faces questioning from a posse of reporters morning and evening at least five days a week. And just like his predecessors, he seemed to find these brief  “doorstep news conferences” exhilarating while voter support for his government soared around the 70 percent level after a landslide election victory last year.

Now that only about 20 percent of Japanese say they support him in the run-up to a key upper house election, Hatoyama has visibly lost enthusiasm for commenting twice a day on camera. At first known for lengthy explanations, he has become increasingly curt. He even admitted recently that he’d prefer to skip the doorsteps in favour of holding more frequent sit-down news conferences, inviting a broader range of reporters from magazines and internet outlets.  ”But this is the custom,” he said forlornly.

Japan’s “political deflation”

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JAPAN-POLITICS/

“Political deflation” – that’s how one quipster described the woes besetting Japan’s political sphere as support for both the new ruling party and its main conservative rival slips on concerns that neither side is capable of steering an economy plagued by falling prices, decades of lacklustre growth and a fast-ageing, shrinking population.

Six months after the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) swept to power  for the first time in a landslide election win that ended more than 50 years of almost unbroken rule by the conservative Liberal Democrats, support for Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s government is only about half the exuberant 70 percent level enjoyed when he took office.

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