Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
With voter popularity for Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama sinking to new lows, there was little sympathy even when a lawmaker from his Democratic Party fell flat on her face in parliament last week. Internet chatrooms and blogs have accused Yukiko Miyake of faking her fall, which the Democrats blamed on a shove by a stocky opposition party lawmaker. Footage of the scene in slow motion has flooded YouTube. One comment: “Miyake needs acting lessons”.
Just 9 months ago, the government’s support ratings stood above 70 percent after the Democrats won a landslide election, ending a half-century of nearly non-stop conservative rule. Miyake was one of many first-time lawmakers on whom voters pinned their hopes for change – reviving the economy, cutting wasteful spending and fixing the pensions system. But polls now show the Democrats may struggle to win an election for parliament’s less powerful upper house, expected in July. Failure to win a majority risks policy deadlock at a time when Japan needs the political mandate to push through reforms and cut huge public debt.
What’s gone wrong for Hatoyama? Plenty. His credibility is in tatters, so much so that a fashion critic recently poked fun at a multi-coloured, checkered shirt the leader wore to a barbecue gathering back in April. Voters are frustrated with his handling of a row with the United States over where to relocate a Marine base on the southern island of Okinawa. He has promised a solution by the end of May, but the chances for one are looking slim. Hatoyama and Democratic Party kingpin Ichiro Ozawa are also under fire for political funding scandals. Both have refused to resign despite polls showing the scandals are hurting support.
Hatoyama has called for patience. Government spending on the economy takes time to trickle down to households. Plus, not only are the Democrats in power for the first time, they are trying to revolutionise policymaking by reducing bureaucratic control and centralising power to the cabinet. But voters worry that Hatoyama, known more for his consensual style, lacks the strong decision-making skills needed to make the new initiative work.
from Raw Japan:
They may be on first-name terms, but Barack's discussions with Yukio during his 24-hour stay in Tokyo have left unresolved a feud over a U.S. military base and deeper questions about the future.
They agreed to review the five decade-old U.S.-Japan alliance as both countries adapt to China's rising regional and global clout, and they agreed to resolve as soon as possible a dispute over the U.S. Marines Futenma airbase on Japan's southern island of Okinawa.