Japan's next prime minister Yoshihiko Noda attends the lower house of parliament in Tokyo August 30, 2011 (Toru Hanai/Courtesy Reuters).
Yesterday, my colleague Elizabeth Economy raised an important question in her blog post about Japan’s new prime minister Yoshihiko Noda. I had characterized him as a moderate, yet for many in China and Korea he is a right-wing nationalist. So which is it?
Noda is both a moderate, and a nationalist. At home, in the context of Japan’s leadership politics, he is a self-described “middle of the road” politician. In an essay in Bungei Shunju this month, Noda outlines his governance vision and firmly places himself in the moderate middle of the policy agenda—a comfortable place for those wishing to bring divisive factions together.
As I wrote in ForeignAffairs.com, Noda’s domestic agenda is full. Yet, diplomatic challenges abound—and particularly this coming year in Northeast Asia—as the politics of transition make every nation in the region sensitive to the reactive nationalism that is so often triggered in political campaigns and leadership transitions.
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