Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Welcome, Taro Aso!

Let us welcome Japanese new Prime Minister, Taro Aso, a former foreign minister who will take over from Yasuo Fukuda on Wednesday.

This outspoken nationalist and avid fan of Japanese animation characters, was chosen Monday by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to become Japan's third prime minister in less than two years.

Aso, 68, will replace Fukuda, who quit this month amid lingering economic woes. Aso won in a landslide vote over several other candidates, including Yuriko Koike, the first woman to run for the nation's highest office.

A career government official who studied at Stanford and in London, Aso has shrugged off criticism that he is too hawkish. For Japan's Asian neighbors, his comments as foreign minister brought back uncomfortable memories of the nation's military expansion more than half a century ago.

The grandson of a postwar prime minister, Aso emerges from the same nationalist school that urges Japan to be less apologetic about its imperial past and more assertive about its current global role.

He criticised the verdicts of the Tokyo war crimes tribunal and had been a regular visitor to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan's war dead, including some who are designated as war criminals.

Aso has held four Cabinet posts. Supporters point to his determination: He lost races for prime minister three times, eventually bouncing back to fill important government posts.

An often-quirky character whose nationalistic platform has been popular with young and old, Aso is a former Olympian in clay-target shooting and professes to be a big fan of Japanese comic books, or manga. His cheerleading for Japan's pop culture has brought him popularity among many younger voters.

1 comment:

joe said...


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