Japan's prime minister welcomes Saddam's capture
Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE
"Japan's prime minister welcomes Saddam's capture "
(by Reuters) Reuters AlertNet
There are no gunfires of joy, nor dancing in the streets, in Tokyo.
People feel relieved as at least one large factor in assessing the outcome of Iraq, and a whole range of political and economic issues worldwide, has been cleared of ambiguity by the capture of Saddam Hussein.
Prime Minister Koizumi said that the arrest of Hussein "will go a long way in restoring order in Iraq and pushing ahead reconstruction of the war-torn country."
Nevertheless, while the comment by Mr Koizumi understandably carries political implications, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda's more reserved tone is perhaps more in line with the public sentiment. Mr Fukuda said, "It would be a bit too optimistic to expect the capture of Hussein to directly lead to the end of all violence by remaining Hussein administration loyalists and foreign terrorists." But Mr Fukuda did not forget to add a brighter touch by saying "But no doubt, the event is a major step forward" which resonates with the words of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan saying that the capture of Hussein offers an "opportunity to give fresh impetus to the search for peace and stability in Iraq." However skeptical the people are, it is definitely and undoubtedly better for everyone for the region to stabilize with less violence.
Japan is prepared to send its Self Defense Force any moment to Iraq. In fact, it was originally envisaged that Japan would send civilians, with or without specific instructions of the government, in the form of NGO's. But as the hostility in the area heightened, it was deemed too dangerous to send civilians, which resulted in the decision to send people with arms, i.e. the SDF, to rebuild the badly needed social infrastructure in Iraq. Such being the case, and as the SDF is not allowed to open fire except for self-defense in the strictest sense of the term, they are vulnerable when viewed as ordinary "troops." In fact, this is one of the reasons cited by people in objecting sending the SDF to Iraq. Accordingly, the SDF could perform better if the region being sent is calm rather than where bullets and bombs are rampant.
Tokyo's stock market surged upon opening this week. Some commented it to be a reflection of general optimism among the participants. But it seems more likely that it is a result of expectations by many Japanese that as the optimism spreads in the US, their retail sales toward the Christmas season should rise, which in turn would have a windfall effect on Japan's economy.
As a very separate issue but perhaps it might be a good opportunity to touch upon is that there are not many significant comments coming out of Japan today, because today is a "newspaper holiday" when all major newspapers take a day off. This is arguably one of the most ridiculous among a number of "rules" the newspaper cartel has drawn up. This problem is itself a long story which not many want to get involved in as it would be an act against all the major newspapers. But this time, upon the news of Hussein's capture, some of them may have realized that they lost a huge business chance as well as a precious opportunity to provide people with what they have always claimed, vivid reports and respectable comments.