Japan Chair Platform: The Kan Government Is Stable
November 10, 2010
Japan will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit later this week. Japan has been represented by a different leader at this kind of international event every year since 2006. Shinzo Abe, Yasuo Fukuda, and Taro Aso, all of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), each resigned as prime minister in the face of a divided Diet, where the ruling LDP had a majority in only one of the two houses. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) took over in 2009, but the pattern of short-term governments continued when Yukio Hatoyama resigned this past June due primarily to his mismanagement of the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa. The current leader, Naoto Kan, also of the DPJ, also faces a divided Diet after his party’s poor showing in the Upper House election in July and has yet to resolve the Futenma issue. Moreover, the Kan government now suffers from a sharp drop in its public approval rating in recent polls. Despite all of this turmoil, Kan’s government is more stable than it appears and has the potential to bring U.S.-Japan relations to a new phase.