May 24, 2019

Japanese PM Naoto Kan survives Ozawa challenge

I shake your hand and I take your job. No I shake your hand and I keep my job.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has survived a party leadership challenge from Ichiro Ozawa.

Mr Kan, who only took office in June, has said he wants to rein in spending and curb Japan’s massive public debt. He wants to raise consumption tax, restrict government spending and cap borrowing.

This is not the most popular thing to do in any country let alone Japan where prosperity has been a way of life for decades. Ozawa had a lot of support from within the Democratic Party of Japan, and the vote was expected to be close, but in the end Mr Kan won by 721 points to 491.

Part of the problem for Japanese indusry has been the strong yen which has hurt exporters. Just to make matters worse for Kan his victory was greeted by the markets with the yen hitting a 15-year high against the dollar.

Kan said “I will stake my life to do the job and gain support from the people.” Well he might not lose his life but with some unpopular policies in the pipeline, his leadership might not survive. For now he has the honour of captaining the Titanic, with ‘iceberg’ Ozawa lurking close by.