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Home > Media Reviews > News Review Last Updated: 11:49 10/06/2008
News Review #466: October 6, 2008

Aso to Visit China Late Oct, Eyes Talks with Hu, Wen

Reviewed by Takahiro MIYAO

Aso to Visit China Late Oct, Eyes Talks with Hu, Wen
Reuters (10/5/2008)


According to the Reuters' article linked above, Prime Minister Taro Aso is planning to visit China and have his first summit with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao on the occasion of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing in late October. It is also reported that during his visit, Mr. Aso could possibly attend a ceremony commemorating the 30th anniversary of the peace and friendship treaty between Japan and China.

All this would be great from the viewpoint of Japan's foreign policy, especially toward China. However, it should be reminded that Mr. Aso's visit to China would be made possible by postponing a general election that he was expected to call later this month. While his "excuse" not to call an election right away is a necessity to deal with the current financial crisis and its negative impact on Japan's economy before it becomes too late, everyone knows that the most likely reason is simply because the popularity rating of Mr. Aso has been unexpectedly low, since he became prime minister, and certainly not high enough to ensure a satisfactory win for his party in a general election, if it is held now.

If that is the real reason, it could mean that Mr. Aso can not and will not call an election until next fall, unless his popularity improves sufficiently, which is unlikely given the current economic condition surrounding Japan. Such a political development would be really disturbing and demoralizing to the general public, as no general election has been held to approve or disapprove the past three prime ministers appointed by the ruling coalition since Mr. Koizumi. Without the public's approval, any seemingly good diplomatic initiative would be groundless as well as meaningless.

This review is adopted from the following blog (with its Japanese translation):

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