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Noda Yoshihiko as a New PM: Unnecessary Change in Current Japan

Noda Yoshihiko, Finance Minister under Kan Naoto administration, was chosen as a sixth Prime Minister of Japan in the last five years. Anxiety over Kan’s future as a Prime Minister was already observed after the 3/11 earthquake indeed. Because of his “poor performance” in dealing with the earthquake aftermath, three opposition parties had submitted a no-confidence motion against Kan on 1 June 2011. Although Kan survived the vote, it was simply because he promised before the ballot that he would step down once a certain level of progress had been made toward the state recovery. The media coverage on Kan after this event looked very negative, and the focus was all on “When is he resigning then?”. It was, therefore, already expected that Kan would resign sometime in August, and a selection of a new Prime Minister at this time of the year did not happen out of the blue.

As much as European observers are tired of this “Japanese politics”, Japanese citizens both in and outside of Japan are fed up with this continuous change in state leaders. Although it looks like it is the Japanese public anxiety toward Prime Minister’s leadership that has been causing this political change at first sight, they have a fairly passive role with governmental bureaucrats as the real key players. Public surveys are usually strategically made, or are made of simplistic “do you support/like him or not” questions, which leaves nothing but negative results. With the fact that Prime Ministers hardly stay in office for more than one year on average, who can picture a “better Japan than last year” from the current Prime Minister knowing that he will be gone by next year? It is critical that the Japanese government acknowledges that its international standing has been seriously in danger given that people would not trust a company that changes the CEO every single year.

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