Taro Aso, one of the five candidates for Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), was elected the LDP party chief on September 22, and won the premiership because of LDP's majority in parliament's Lower House.
Nevertheless, Taro Aso's imminent cabinet is seen as a "takeover cabinet for the general election" even before its birth, as no lower house (or the Hose of Representatives) election needs to be held until September 2009 but is likely to be held much earlier, possibly later this year. So, the political scene in Japan is now entering into an eventful period and the prospects for Sino-Japanese ties have also drawn growing attention from all sides.
To cope with the American financial crisis and prevent Japanese economy from sliding further, LDP first of all proposed to pass a supplementary budget bill in the lower house before adjourning in October of November and, if the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) led by Ichiro Ozawa and other minority parties in opposition object, it will prepare to hold the general election on 26th October this year.
The current lower house election is vital and imperative however, for LDP can continue to be in power even if it fails to achieve a two-thirds majority but gains the simple majority in the lower house.
In July 2007, the LDP lost control of the upper house (which is less powerful than the lower house of the bicameral Diet) to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). If DPJ does not divide or split in itself, it would be still difficult for LDP to alter the "twisted" phenomena in which DPJ and other opposition parties steer the upper house, and so the Upper House LDP members will find themselves with a tougher time to wield power.
Moreover, Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa would become the first prime minister from DPJ once the party wins the next general election. If both the ruling LDP and DPJ fail to win the simple majority, the Komei Party (KP) which has been working in cooperation with LDP, and other minorities will turn significant provided they are able to gain more votes. Hence, the outcome of the next general election will probably give rise to the new disintegration or reorganization of the political scene in Japan.
In view of the general trend, either LDP or DPJ has continued to attach importance to maintaining and developing overall bilateral ties with China. The comprehensive advancement of Sino-Japanese strategic and mutually-beneficial relations conforms to the fundamental interests of both nations and is conducive to peace and stability in the East Asia region.
To date, China has substituted the United States as Japan's largest export market; the success of Beijing's Olympic and Paralympic Games have won favorable opinions from Japanese people from all walks of life; and the business circle in Japan has begun reconsidering their ties with China. And China acclaims Japan's support to the recent Beijing Olympics as well as aid in need offered by Japanese medical professionals to victims from the tragic Wenchuan earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan province and adjacent regions.
Consequently, the popular feelings or sentiments among Chinese people toward Japan have improved noticeably in China. The surging tide for the improvement of Sino-Japanese ties has not come easily, and so it is all the more worthy of evaluation.
The fourth Beijing-Tokyo Forum, held at the co-sponsorship of China Daily and the non-profit Japanese organization Genron NPO, has been crowned sith a complete success. The forum did not seem to be negatively impacted by upheavals in Japan's political scene. It was attended by numerous Diet members from both the ruling LDP and parties in opposition. They included five members of the Yasuo Fukuda cabinet, namely, Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, Minister for Internal Affairs Hiroya Masuda, Defense Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister of the Environment Tetsuo Saito, and land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki. In addition, four prefecture or city governors also partook in the forum.
Chinese and Japanese participants at the recent forum conducted candid and straightforward dialogues and exchanges in seven major fields, such as in politics and diplomacy, economy and trade, mass media, the environment and energy, food security and cereals, defense and security affairs, and locality exchanges, and set forth a large number of positive proposals.
In order to cope with a catastrophic financial crisis occurring in the U.S., both sides have particularly underscored an urgent need for the further enhancement of financial coordination and cooperation; the governments of China and Japan should maintain cooperation to deal with the common challenges they are facing from the food security issue for a proper solution.
Moreover, as close neighbors, the two nations should keep up exchanges among their children and young people as well as locality exchanges, and their mass media, too, should give scope to their due positive role accordingly.
As the contemporary global security situation remains intense and volatile, China and Japan should reinforce or step up their political mutual trust, exchanges in defense sphere and cooperation in the non-traditional areas, so as to accomplish their "sustainable security". As some structural disputes or contradictions between the two nations are still around, both sides should seek new, good-neighborly avenues to dissolve the contradictions existing between them gradually and live in peace and harmony together.
By People's Daily Online, and its author is Prof. Liu Jiangyong with the Institute of International Studies at the elite Tsinghua University in Beijing, who is a special guest commentator invited by People Daily