Abe's return in Japan heartens US

2012-12-18 12:04
Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe. (File, AFP)

Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe. (File, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - The return of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan has raised hopes in Washington for closer security ties, although US officials hope he keeps a lid on his more strident views.

Abe is a champion of revising the post-World War II pacifist constitution and may take shorter-term steps such as boosting defence spending and allowing greater military co-operation with the United States, Japan's treaty-bound ally.

His Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled almost continuously from 1955 until 2009, roared back on Sunday with a crushing victory over the Democratic Party of Japan, which Abe accused of harming relations with the United States.

President Barack Obama's relations with DPJ-led Japanese governments have substantially improved after early friction. But Abe is seen as more supportive of US force deployments and has vowed no compromise with China in a worsening row over disputed islands.

Michael Green, the senior vice president for Asia at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said that Abe's victory was a "net positive" for the United States and could in fact stabilise Japan-China ties.

"The view in Beijing is that their pressure tactics are working on Japan and I think it's important to disabuse them of that," Green said.

But Green, who served as the top Asia adviser to former president George W Bush, feared that a new team in the second Obama administration could follow a "simplistic media picture" of a more hawkish Japan and potentially isolate Abe.

Wartime sex slaves

"If the administration decides it has to somehow counter Japan's shift to the right by brokering between Japan and China, it would not go well either in relations with Japan or China," he said.

But Green said that US priorities in Asia - particularly the relationship between allies Japan and South Korea - could face setbacks if Abe pursues a hard line over emotive history issues.

Abe, whose grandfather was arrested but not indicted as a World War II war criminal, has called in the past for rescinding Japan's apology to wartime sex slaves, known euphemistically as "comfort women".

But Abe, during his previous 2006-2007 premiership, worked to repair ties with China and South Korea and avoided politically charged visits to the Yasukuni shrine, which honours 2.5 million Japanese war dead including war criminals.

"There is a concern for US policymakers that his revisionist inclinations will spark new tensions in the region, but his statements of late have at least tried to temper those anxieties," said Weston Konishi, director of Asia-Pacific studies at the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis.

"I think the hope is that he'll take a very responsible approach," he said.

Abe will likely face domestic pressure not to antagonise neighbours. Japanese business leaders have been alarmed by tensions and Abe governs in a coalition with New Komeito, a Buddhist party with pacifist views.

Konishi said there were "probably some circles in town that welcome" the return of familiar faces in the Liberal Democratic Party, but added that the Obama administration had developed a strong relationship with the Democrats.

Offensive capabilities

Obama congratulated Abe and called the US-Japan alliance "the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific." State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said Washington has "worked with Japanese governments of both parties for decades" and looked forward to working with Abe.

James Schoff, a former Pentagon official who is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said that Abe's effort on defence could be "a net benefit for everyone" if Japan complements the United States.

"But if the focus is more toward building up offensive capabilities vis-a-vis China, that's going to create probably more problems than it's worth from a US perspective," he said.

Yukio Hatoyama, the first prime minister following the DPJ's landmark 2009 win, resigned after clashing with the United States over the status of a controversial military base in Okinawa.

Relations improved after the round-the-clock US response to last year's tsunami and the Obama administration enjoyed strong ties with outgoing prime minister Yoshihiko Noda, who supported joining talks on a US-backed trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The Liberal Democrats have been divided on the emerging deal. The party relies on support from farmers, many of whom adamantly oppose foreign competition.

- SAPA

Read more on:    shinzo abe  |  george w bush  |  barack obama  |  japan  |  india  |  china  |  us
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zille: Only DA can challenge ANC in F State

The DA is the only party that can challenge the ANC in the Free State, opposition party leader Helen Zille says.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Monday Sir Lowry's Pass - 16:54 PM
    Road name: N2 Westbound
    HEAVY TRAFFIC over Sir Lowrys Pass - expect delays
  • Monday Melkbosstrand - 16:47 PM
    Road name: R27 West Coast Road Southbound
    DELAYS approaching the Melkbos turning due to high volumes
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router

Huawei B683 21Mbps 3G Wireless Router The B683 wireless gateway (hereinafter...

From R1671.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.