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Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010


Testing times for Mr. Kan

With the opposition forces controlling the Upper House, the biggest task facing Prime Minister Naoto Kan in the current extraordinary Diet session is securing the passage of a supplementary budget for fiscal 2010 to bolster the flagging economy.

He must also cope with such issues as the looming indictment of former Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa over a funds reporting scandal and criticism over the government's handling of the row with China over the recent Senkaku Islands incident.

In plenary sessions held earlier this week, the opposition forces demanded that Mr. Kan exercise leadership to help the Diet summon Mr. Ozawa as a witness. Mr. Kan took a rather aloof attitude, saying that the Diet should make the decision itself. He apparently fears that if he agrees to the summoning he will face antipathy from Mr. Ozawa and his supporters. But if Mr. Kan sticks to his position, the Ozawa issue will continue to plague him in the Diet.

For its part, the opposition should refrain from using the Ozawa issue for the sake of politicking. They should not allow it to hinder deliberations on policy measures closely related to people's lives, including the supplementary budget.

They criticized the Kan Cabinet's handling of the Senkaku incident, accusing the Kan administration of pressuring the Naha prosecutors office to release the Chinese fishing boat captain arrested after his vessel's collission with Japan Coast Guard ships.

The Kan Cabinet may have handled the matter awkwardly, but it is imperative that the Cabinet and the ruling and opposition parties now focus on exploring the best way to handle relations with China, which appears to be intent on expanding its maritime interests in both the South and East China seas.

In this connection, they also need to study ways to deepen cooperation not only with the United States but also with other Asian nations. Mr. Kan must demonstrate leadership in these discussions.

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