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Split parliament to be big challenge for Noda


17:00, August 31, 2011

BEIJING, Aug.31 (Xinhuanet) -- Japan has accomplished a smooth leadership transition, with the final confirmation of Yoshihiko Noda as Prime Minister. But he will have very little time to celebrate his victory as many challenges await him.

A clear majority in the lower house paves the way for the Chief of the Democratic Party of Japan to finally assume Japan's top executive office.

Takahiro Yokomichi, Lower House Speaker said "According to the will of the people, and confirmed by the rules of the house of representatives law 18 clause 2, Yoshihiko Noda is, as of now, prime minister of Japan."

Some optimistic investors believe the low-key politician is probably the best choice for Japan at this juncture, given all the hurdles he faces.

Kazuto Doi, Head of Asia-Pacific Investment Management of Western Asset Management said "Compared to all his predecessors, Noda is probably one of the best suited to deal with the opposition party in order to put policies in place."

But even the most optimistic of optimists can't overlook the fact that the Japanese Diet remains a split Parliament. The ruling DPJ is in control of the powerful lower house, but it doesn't mean the Prime Minister can realize all his policy designs at will.

Professor Koichi Nakano, Sophia University said "The fact that the governing party does not have a majority in the upper house is really very damaging, because in Japan, according to the constitution, a bill doesn't become a law until it's passed in an identical form by both houses and that gives the opposition parties a big veto power, even over key legislation. So, that has been the background factor, really, of the "revolving door" phenomenon."

A split Parliament has been in place in Japan for a few years. Faced with such tough reality, Noda can only stress the importance of unity within his own party. After winning the Party leadership race, he called on DPJ members to end internal squabbling and remain united as one.

Noda was the Finance Minister in Naoto Kan's cabinet. As a fiscal conservative, Noda is respected for his economic credentials. Some analysts say his financial expertise will help him appease the concerns of overseas investors. He has been an advocate of prudent fiscal management in Japan and voiced support for raising Japan's 5 percent sales tax to reduce the nation's national debt, which is now twice as much as the nation's G-D-P.

Given the abundance of pressing problems at home, Noda is likely to focus on disaster reconstruction and other domestic matters. Contrary to Naoto Kan's concept of gradually reducing Japan's reliance on nuclear power, Noda has been urging the public to regain confidence in nuclear power. He is calling for reactivating nuclear reactors to stabilize power supply, a move that would definitely upset voters in the northeast of Japan the most affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.


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