China: Poll shows Japan's shift to right

Dec. 17, 2012 at 12:36 AM
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BEIJING, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- China's official media, citing the political shift in Japan's parliamentary elections, said the "rapid shift to the right" raised worries among its neighbors.

Japan's Liberal Democratic Party, led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and a party ally won a two-thirds majority in the 480-seat lower house of Parliament in Sunday's elections, paving the way for the nationalist Abe, who has talked tough on China, to return to his old post.

The victory comes as Japan remains locked in a tense territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands that has adversely affected their bilateral trade, estimated $340 billion annually, and led to boycott of Japanese goods in China. Last week, Japan scrambled its F-15 jets after saying one of China's marine surveillance planes entered its air space over the islands.

A commentary in China's official Xinhua News Agency said the LDP during its campaign had accused the ruling Democratic Party of Japan of "creating a lost Japan in politics, economy, diplomacy, security and education during its three years of administration. The party vowed during the campaign to 'win back Japan.'"

Xinhua said pre-election polls, however, showed more than 60 percent of voters had been concerned more about economic policies and that only 15 percent of them had paid more attention to foreign and security issues.

"That means the LDP should aim at taking back Japan in an economic sense to rescue the world's third-largest economy from its slump and end Japan's lost two decades," the commentary said.

However, it said the LDP and other smaller parties had stressed security and military issues in election promises.

"Stoked by heated far-right rhetoric in Japan, the parties attempted to grab more votes by appealing to rising nationalist sentiments," Xinhua said. "Japan's rapid shift to the right has heightened worries in neighboring countries and has even caused vigilance elsewhere in the world."

The report said prior to the election, Japan's conservative camp had sought to revise the country's pacifist constitution to "activate" the country's right of collective self-defense, elevate the military's status to a national self defense force, ramp up military spending and fortify its maritime security.

"History has proven many times that a peaceful Japan is a boon to the region and the whole world, while a restless Japan will bring new disturbances to the world," Xinhua said. "To win back Japan, the LDP will have to learn from history, respect the postwar world order, curb rightist extremism, and preserve the hard-won peace."

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