apan’s new prime minister, Taro Aso, has his work cut out for him, said Catherine Makino in Asia Times. “Armed with little more than charisma,” he has to revive his country’s “flagging economy” and steer the ruling Liberal Democratic Party through elections that will “sorely test” its 50-year grip on power.
Let’s hope Aso can hang in there longer than Japan’s last two premiers, said the Financial Times in an editorial. Shinzo Abe lasted just a year, and Yasuo Fukuda just 11 months. “Japan badly needs the focus that an articulate, more than fly-by-night leader can provide.”
The U.S. has good reason to wish Aso well, said the International Herald Tribune. “Nationalism is enjoying a disturbing political revival because many Japanese fear that their country, once Asia's clear economic leader, is losing ground to booming neighbors.” If Japan is to remain the “responsible strategic partner” Washington needs, Aso will have to restore confidence and discourage “symbolic muscle-flexing” that will provoke angry reactions across Asia.
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