JAPAN: Issues the Big Election Never Really Discussed

The monumental election in Japan’s House of Representatives is quickly approaching, bringing with it a slew of reports and articles on everything Japanese – from policy to political strategy. Set for December 16th, the election has the potential to change the political landscape of the nation. With issues such as the Senkaku Island controversy and the hotly debated Trans-Pacific Partnership, there has been much discussed as the election comes to the finish line. The lively Japanese media has had much to say, of course.

Earlier this month, The Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s top dailies, published a number of editorials on the election. Among them was a provocative piece about the country’s frequent bouts with earthquakes – a topic in the forefront of many Japanese minds, having just experienced an offshore 7.3 magnitude earthquake only a week ago on December 7th. While that quake caused little damage, it served as a reminder of the devastation that ravaged the nation last spring. Yet despite the remembrance, preparation for future disasters has “not even become an issue, let alone a key topic” for the upcoming election. According to the newspaper, any policies that have been presented by the nation’s leading parties have been largely insubstantial or lack an appreciation of previous damage inflicted. Establishing a plan for wide-spread destruction is no easy feat, but it’s one that must be considered more seriously given Japan’s frequent clashes with Mother Nature.

In a separate piece regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, The Asahi Shimbun lambasted the LDP and DPJ for arguably “shying away” from clearly asserting their stances on the subject. Both leading parties have been careful to step around the topic, saying very little beyond mild interest or cursory opposition. Instead of acting hesitant and succumbing to lobbyists, the daily argued that the nation, regardless of which party wins, should take part in the TPP talks. At the very least, the government could gather further information before deciding whether it would be good for the nation as a whole.

As a nation plagued with numerous problems, ranging from an arguably stagnant economy to growing tension with China, Japan’s political parties must take the upcoming election seriously, addressing every pressing issue clearly. We are all too familiar with this kind of party ambiguity in the United States. But the wishy-washy nature of elections positions should not serve as a deterrent from the massive importance of this election for Japan’s future.

For more information, please visit the following:  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/AJ201212080026



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