Monday, September 17, 2012

Tng Ying Hui: Domestic Politics (unpopular political leadership in Japan, China, & ROK) driving political theater in Senkakus

Excellent analysis posted at Al Jazeera by Tng Ying Hui about domestic politics in China, Japan, and South Korea driving the melodramatic political theater over the Senkakus:
Political changes across the region have induced the governments to weigh in more strongly in the contest for the islets. Just when the leadership transition is about to commence, the Chinese political elites are facing challenges to its absolute position.

As the Bo Xilai scandal revealed fissures within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), they are anxious for a closure to the incident. Gu Kailai was swiftly charged for Neil Heywood’s murder, while ousted politician Bo Xilai was only briefly mentioned during the trials.

In Japan, PM Yoshihiko Noda suffers from below 30 per cent approval rating. Noda also comes under pressure to hold another election soon; a deal he made in exchange to get his tax-cut bill passed in parliament.

South Korea's Lee Myung-bak does not have it better. With elections looming, his approval ratings are at rock bottom, partly due to a series of corruption scandals, convicting a few of his closest aides and his brother.

"The governments hence see it necessary to take this opportunity to utilise nationalist passions to prevent being perceived as weak in the eyes of the electorate. In Lee's case, his visit to Takeshima/Dokdo Islands, which is also contested by Japan, have given some life to his approval ratings as it crept up 6 per cent.

However, with relations more tense than ever, countries are in a tenuous situation where possible severe foreign policy repercussions could occur if provocative behaviour calculated to influence domestic politics takes precedence over diplomatic gestures.

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