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Monday, April 25, 2011
Task for post-disaster politics
As more than 40 days have passed since the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan, politicians must remind themselves that their priority task is to help the victims and to end the Fukushima nuclear plant crisis as soon as possible.
Politicians should be aware that anger and disappointment are mounting among the victims of the triple-disaster, including those suffering from the nuclear crisis.
Unfortunately, Prime Minister Naoto Kan has not taken a coherent approach for coping with the disasters.
Some 20 teams and headquarters have been set up, including the Reconstruction Design Council. But it is unclear how Mr. Kan can manage so many bodies. One wonders whether the chain of command to control these bodies is clearly established.
Officials close to him floated the idea of increasing the number of Cabinet ministers by three and making Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Goshi Hosono a Cabinet minister to deal with the nuclear crisis. But these ideas went nowhere.
In short, proposals coming from Mr. Kan's side appear haphazard. He is thinking of setting up a headquarters to carry out post-disaster reconstruction in which both ruling and opposition leaders would participate. But the Liberal Democratic Party, the main opposition party, sounds negative toward this idea, as does Komeito.
It is not surprising that both parties have taken such an attitude when Mr. Kan's true intention remains unclear.
In Diet deliberations, the LDP and Komeito have questioned Mr. Kan's caliber as a leader. Within the DPJ, former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa criticized Mr. Kan's responses to the March 11 triple-disaster from the earthquake, tsunami and failures at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The problem is that no strong messages have come out of either ruling or opposition politicians that encourage people and give hope to disaster victims.
Mr. Kan holds the key. He must show his sincerity in tackling the problems that Japan faces. He should not even try to use post-disaster responses as a means of prolonging his political life. He also should show the magnanimity to let Mr. Ozawa, who is from the disaster region (Iwate Prefecture), play a crucial role in reconstruction efforts.