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DPJ promises U.S. confrontation on key issues

Date Posted: 2009-08-06

The Democratic Party of Japan, the opposition party widely believed capable of defeating the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in elections August 30th, says it considers the United States the nation’s most valuable ally, but promises to be confrontational on both diplomatic and military issues.

The DPJ’s secretary general says the time has come for his country to become more “independent and assertive” and not blindly follow America’s directions. Katsuya Okada, who figures to have a leading role in a new government if his DPJ wins the upcoming elections, is critical of current and past Japanese governments who have always given in to whatever the U.S. wants. He’s called it “obedience to Washington” and says his opposition party won’t go along with it.

Okada cited the central government’s continued allegiance to the U.S. after the American government switched from George Bush to Barack Obama. “There were large changes in U.S. policy positions toward Japan,” he said, “but it was as if Japan was saying ‘either way is fine’”. The DPJ’s pledge to become more independent will not, Okada says, mean the alliance with America would be undermined. Japan, with the world’s second largest economy, has relied on the U.S. for leadership direction on many foreign policy positions. Japan-U.S. agreements cover more than 50,000 American troops stationed in the country, including many here in Okinawa, and relies on the U.S. for its nuclear umbrella.

The latest polls show both the DPJ and the LDP gaining support as the elections approach. A Kyodo News poll shows the opposition DPJ favored by 34.4% of potential voters, a gain of 3.7% from a week ago. Some 16.7% say they’ll vote for the LDP, a gain of 1.1 percentage points. Significantly, more than one-third, 37.6%, are undecided on which party to vote for in the August 30th elections.

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