Saturday, September 24, 2011

Global Article 9 Campaign: What Noda's Election as Japan's PM means to the Article 9 Debate

Global Article Campaign to Abolish War:

On August 29, Noda Yoshihiko was elected President of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), thus set to become the third DPJ Prime Minister since the party came to power in August 2009.

Japan's Prime Minister Kan Naoto announced his resignation on August 26, amidst criticism of his handling of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami, and ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, as well as what is considered to be the biggest debt crisis in the industrialized world. Kan faced a no confidence vote in June, when he pledged to resign once Parliament passed a legislation promoting renewable energy.

In politics since 1987, Noda Yoshihiko joined the DPJ in 2000 and served as Finance Minister in Kan's cabinet in 2010-2011. His election platform has been based on getting the Fukushima nuclear power plant under control and restoring Japan's fiscal balance. A fiscal conservative, Noda is an advocate of tax increase to curb the country's debt and finance the country's reconstruction. Qualifying his policies as "reasonable" and "realistic", he wants to restart Japan's nuclear reactors and does not support his predecessor's vision of a nuclear-free Japan (though he is in favor of reducing Japan's reliance on nuclear power).

Known as a strong supporter of the US-Japan security alliance, Noda considers US-Japanese ties as the "very foundation" of Japan's foreign and security policies. Expressing concerns over China's military buildup, which he describes as the "greatest cause for worry in the (Asian) region", Noda favors a tough approach towards China.

Upsetting Japan's neighbors, Noda has repeatedly made controversial statements on Japanese A-class war criminals, denying that the country's wartime leaders were "criminals" and defending Japanese politicians' visits to the Yasukuni Shrine - the controversial war memorial that honors those killed in the service of Imperial Japan, including World War II war criminals, seen as a symbol of Japanese militarism.

The son of a Japan Ground Self Defense Forces career soldier, Noda stated in 2002 (then as an opposition politician) that Japan should get rid of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, which renounces war as a means of settling international disputes and prohibits the maintenance of armed forces and other war potential. If not, he added, Article 9 should at least specify that Japan's SDF has military capability.

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