The rise and fall of Naoto Kan

Regarding the Aug. 31 interview “Naoto Kan speaks out“: I have mixed feelings. During the time that the Liberal Democratic Party was dominating the politics of Japan until it lost power in 2009 and “the traditional triangular network” — or extremely strong ties with vested politicians, bureaucrats and big business that seek concessions — ruled this country, Kan’s presence was, I believe, second to none. He is not a “hereditary politician” and most of his adherents were ordinary citizens, which was quite rare at that time. One of his great feats was to reveal the HIV infection accidents that were caused by a series of sloppy policy errors made by the welfare ministry and pharmaceutical companies. Without a doubt, many people admit that if it were not for him, this issue would not have come to light.

It is, however, regrettable that Kan’s achievement as a member of the caucus of the ruling party (when the Democratic Party of Japan took power) and as prime minister is a far cry from satisfactory. His aggressiveness and assertiveness, which was the vital source to lead him to the seat of prime minister, often backfired on his reputation and caused misunderstandings. Besides, his ineptness in handling bureaucrats, opposition parties and inner-party foes inevitably shortened his tenure as the top leader of this country.

Though Kan is still pushing with tenacity to eliminate all nuclear power plants in Japan, I have a strong doubt whether it will be possible through his initiative as he had already failed to accomplish this goal when he was in power. Now that he is neither the prime minister nor head of his party, it will be difficult for him to be successful with such a big issue.

shuichi john watanabe
tokyo

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.