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Japan`s Ruling Party to Hold `Election of Policy` Sept. 14

Japan`s Ruling Party to Hold `Election of Policy` Sept. 14

Posted September. 02, 2010 13:19,   


The Sept. 14 election for the leadership of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which will effectively select the next prime minister, will likely be a fierce competition over policy, something rare in previous elections of Japan`s ruling party.

Party members not bound to a specific faction will hold the key to the election in the expected tight race, so many are poised to choose a candidate based on policy.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan and rival Ichiro Ozawa have suggested differing stances on the economy and foreign relations. As such, their policies will likely have significant influence over not only on the election’s results, but also on the orientation of Japan’s future.

The most heated issues will likely be a rise in the excise tax, the relocation of the U.S. Marines’ Futenma airbase in Okinawa, and political funds.

The two rivals significantly differ over the airbase, which is the biggest pending issue in Japan’s foreign relations. Kan, who puts top priority on Tokyo’s alliance with Washington, says Japan must keep its May promise with the U.S. to relocate the base to Nago, Okinawa.

The prime minister apparently believes that bilateral ties went sour because of the previous Yukio Hatoyama administration’s urging of equal footing in two-way relations.

Ozawa, former secretary-general of the ruling party, says Japan needs to reconsider ties with Washington and examine how to move the airbase out of Okinawa or even out of the country. Like Hatoyama, he also emphasizes bilateral relations based on an equal footing and focuses more on Japan’s relationship with Asia than with the U.S.

On political reform, Kan will likely seek to press Ozawa on the source of his political funds, Ozawa`s weakest point. Kan is urging transparency in party funds and a ban on corporate donations of political funds, measures obviously targeting Ozawa.