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Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010
Kan urged to focus on nation's finances
Interviewees say sales tax, foreign policy also important
By NATSUKO FUKUE and MIZUHO AOKI
After Prime Minister Naoto Kan was re-elected president of the Democratic Party of Japan on Tuesday, many people interviewed on the streets of Tokyo expressed support for him and said he should get to work right away on revitalizing the economy.
Kan received 721 points while rival Ichiro Ozawa got 491 in the DPJ's complicated voting system.
"I'm expecting a lot from Kan," said a 29-year-old company employee who only provided her given name, Masako. She said she supports him because his policies are realistic.
"I agree with him for revising the (DPJ's) manifesto. It's important to change it so it will match the current situation," she said, adding Japan needs a leader who can be flexible amid societal and economic flux.
Sachiko Tanaka, 65, of Tokyo, said Kan should remain in power as long as it takes to achieve his policies.
She said she thinks the consumption tax increase Kan has suggested is unavoidable considering the nation's financial condition.
"Serving as prime minister for the past few months and seeing the reality, I guess Kan knows a consumption tax increase is inevitable," Tanaka said. "Ozawa said he will cut wasteful government spending before discussing the tax hike, but I think that's unrealistic."
Retiree Yoshitaka Suzuki, 60, said he usually doesn't vote for the DPJ, but he has high expectations for Kan.
Ozawa should not have run in the election in the first place, he said.
"I feel the DPJ is acting like the Liberal Democratic Party, which keeps having factional disputes," Suzuki said. "Ozawa is just accelerating divisions among DPJ politicians."
Suzuki said his main concern is whether Kan can gain trust from overseas nations.
"I think (the prime minister) should stay for a decent amount of time," he said, noting the criticism Japan has received from other countries for changing leaders too frequently.
Asked what should be Kan's priority, many expressed hope that he will work hard to improve the economy.
"I hope the next prime minister will change the economic climate. If the economy will not improve, companies would not be able to hire new people," said Tanaka, expressing concern over the current employment situation.
What Japan needs is someone who can energize the country, she added.
Toshiyuki Shimizu agreed. The 34-year-old company executive from Saitama Prefecture said he expects Kan to take a firm hand in guiding economic policy.
In addition to economic issues, Tomoyuki Uchida, a 69-year-old company employee, said Kan should place emphasis on foreign policy.
"Kan has to deal not only with domestic problems but also international issues, such as (the territorial dispute over) the Senkaku islands," Uchida said.But some people also had high expectations for Ozawa, saying he would be more capable in carrying out policies.
"It's not that I support a specific Ozawa policy. It's because I like Ozawa's aggressiveness," said company executive Shimizu.
Uchida said Japan needs a prime minister who can show strong leadership and Ozawa is better suited for the DPJ's top post.