Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Who'da thunk?

Fukuda put MangaMan Aso in charge of finding a new prime minister and lo and behold he may just pick himself ala Dick Cheney.

Topping the list of likely candidates to become Japan's 11th prime minister in 15 years is former foreign minister Taro Aso, 67, an outspoken nationalist...Aso did not immediately announce he would run, but told reporters he thought he was a suitable candidate.

An old, comic book reading, right-wing revisionist geezer to lead the country. Oh my god, what a surprise.

1218: There has been quite a bit of coverage on the Fukada resignation especially for the US media which was disappointed by the lack of disaster in New Orleans and needs to fill up air time and newspaper space.

More from Bloomberg about Aso:

....may increase government spending in a country that already has the world's largest public debt...

from the Financial Times:

Mr Aso shares the desire of Shinzo Abe, another short-lived leader, to restore national pride and to make Japan an effective presence on the world stage...A patriot - some might say a nationalist - Mr Aso has recently toned down his rhetoric, though some observers wonder whether he would be able to maintain much-improved relations with China.

And on the resignation by the NYT:

“This is the perfect timing to not cause people too much trouble,” Mr. Fukuda said.

However, business leaders and opposition politicians were quick to criticize his abrupt exit, especially after Mr. Abe’s sudden departure.

“It is an utterly irresponsible way to quit,” Kozo Watanabe, a senior adviser at the Democratic Party, was quoted as saying by Japan’s Kyodo News. “I cannot help worrying about what will happen to this country’s politics.

Aren't we all worrying?

More FTP:

Aso, a flamboyant former foreign minister known for his love of comic-book culture, made little secret that he wants to be premier.

"Mr Fukuda said last night that he wanted a successor to take over what he has done," Aso, currently the LDP's secretary general, told reporters.

"I believe that I am qualified to take over Mr Fukuda's agenda...Other candidates may be Yuriko Koike, 56, one of Japan's most high-profile female politicians who has been defence minister.

Washington Post

"There is no one else really who can run other than Aso," said Harumi Arima, a political analyst.

Aso, 67, who Fukuda beat last year in party competition for the job of prime minister, is a Roman Catholic, part of a tiny religious minority that makes up less than half a percent of Japan's population. He has a reputation as a nationalist on foreign policy. While Fukuda focused on the improvement of Japan's relations with China, Aso has said he is wary of Chinese military ambitions.

Like many elders in the ruling party, Aso has a family pedigree in politics. He is the grandson of a prime minister, his wife is the daughter of another prime minister and his younger sister is married to a cousin of the emperor.

Japan Economy and News Blog. Not surprised:

There is no surprise. Mr Mori said on national television that Fukuda was no good and that he wanted Aso in the position

And the BBC's Chris Hogg cautions:

There are those who question whether the party's 53-yeargrip on power (apart from a one-off 10-month break several years ago) is now looking more likely than ever to be loosened or even lost.

Do not underestimate, though, the opposition party's proven ability over the years to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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