Japan’s Unstable Political Situation

After only eight months, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, has resigned from his post. The next leader of the newly-empowered Democratic Party and Japan has been chosen, one Naoto Kan. He is the island nation’s fifth prime minister in four years.

Japan's sixth prime minister in five years.

This is just the latest step in Japan’s descent in political instability and economic decay. For twenty years, Japan’s economy has been ailing, and with an aging population and an exploding debt, it needs a strong leader at the helm. The island nation needs to undertake a major overhaul of its political system to ensure more continuity in leadership. It can start by setting a fixed term, say four years, for each government and prime minister. In most functioning democracies, one brush with political unpopularity is not enough to sink a government,  in Japan it is.

The United States should be more forbearing with the new Japanese prime minister, and allow him to rework the agreement over Futenma, an issue that sunk Hatoyama’s job approval and forced him from office. This would give Kan much-needed political clout and might save his government from a similar collapse. A strong Japan, which is reinvigorated both politically and economically, is in the interests of both countries.


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