By Dr Sanjaya Baru, Director for Geo-economics and Strategy
‘The Pacific and the Indian Oceans are now bringing about a dynamic coupling as seas of freedom and of prosperity’. With those words Shinzo Abe, now re-elected prime minister of Japan, launched into an historic address to the Indian Parliament in August 2007. A ‘broader Asia’, he said … ‘is now beginning to take on a distinct form. Our two countries have the ability – and the responsibility – to ensure that it broadens yet further and to nurture and enrich these seas to become seas of clearest transparence.’
To an audience that had not yet absorbed the full import of the historic shift that Abe was seeking in Japan’s relations with India, he added: ‘This is the message I wish to deliver directly today to the one billion people of India. That is why I stand before you now in the Central Hall of the highest chamber, to speak with you, the people’s representatives of India.’
Shinzo Abe is not just another prime minister in a country where prime ministers come by the dozen. He has pedigree and has acquired courage and a vision. And over the weekend he has also won a massive and historic verdict in favour of his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
By Jens Wardenaer, Research Analyst and Editorial Assistant
Japan is facing another general election in December, after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the Lower House of the Diet last week. Noda – Japan’s sixth premier in as many years – announced his intention to go to the polls during a parliamentary debate, saying: ‘Let’s do it’.
The main campaign issues will be tax and nuclear power. The emergence of a nationalist ‘third force’ involving Shintaro Ishihara, the nationalist former governor of Tokyo is also making this election one to watch. Ishihara triggered the current flare-up with China, and is now helping to challenge the dominance of Japan’s two main groupings: Noda’s ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is currently in opposition.