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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 September 2007, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Mixed press for new Japanese PM
New Japanese PM Yasuo Fukuda
71-year-old Yasuo Fakuda is a Liberal Democratic Party veteran

The press in Japan and its regional neighbours see the new Japanese PM, Yasuo Fukuda, as a safe pair of hands to take over from his predecessor Shinzo Abe, who resigned after only a year in office.

But some Japanese commentators have expressed concern that Mr Fukuda will slow down the drive towards economic reform begun by former PM Junichiro Koizumi, and one Tokyo paper criticises him for a lack of detailed policies.

Media elsewhere in the region generally welcome Mr Fukuda as a conciliatory figure who will work to improve ties with China and Korea.

Mikio Sugeno in Japan's NIHON KEIZAI SHIMBUN

Fukuda must assure the public by showing how he plans to sustain economic growth while tackling the painful task of rebuilding the nation's finances. He has promised to promote reform and growth, but has also criticised those willing to let market principles determine the direction of the economy. His statements so far indicate that he plans to depart from the aggressive reform path set by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Editorial in Japan's NIHON KEIZAI SHIMBUN

Fukuda has pledged to restore public confidence in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and remake it into a party that can implement policies effectively. However, Fukuda's hastily drafted election platform, titled "Building a Nation of Hope and Security", contains few specific policy promises.

Editorial in Japan's ASAHI

Shinzo Abe championed a nationalistic ideology, forged ahead with his conservative agenda, and presented himself as a strong leader. Fukuda, in contrast, is bent on mending Japan's strained relations with China and South Korea, and is critical of adopting a hard-line stance towards North Korea. He is also not inclined to throw his weight around. It is not surprising that a majority of LDP favoured Fukuda after Abe's disastrous leadership.

Feng Zhaokui in CHINA DAILY

Now that Fukuda will be prime minister, it is expected that China and Japan will continue the improvement in bilateral relations that began with Prime Minister Abe's visit to China in October 2006. Peaceful co-existence benefits both China and Japan, while conflicts harm both. Japan would be travelling down a blind alley if it were to return to the old militarist ways that led to World War II.

Wang Yusheng in China's JIEFANG RIBAO

[Fukuda] sees the Japan-US relationship as the cornerstone of Japan's diplomacy, but has also promised to attach importance to Asia and the UN, and has pledged to strengthen relations between China and Japan. This multi-pronged approach is expected to boost Sino-Japanese strategic relations further.

Editorial in Hong Kong's SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

There should be no safer pair of hands than Mr Fukuda. Despite his nationalist credentials, Mr Abe took a conciliatory line towards Japan's neighbours, particularly China and South Korea, and this must be strengthened by his successor. If the LDP wishes to continue in government, it has to put Japan ahead of its own longevity.


Fukuda is regarded as being pro-China, and he will benefit Sino-Japanese relations as prime minister. However, China may not necessarily be too happy, because Fukuda could be hindered by mainstream right-wing forces in the Japanese political arena. There are doubts over how long Fukuda can be prime minister.

Tsai Zheng-Jia in Taiwan's CHINA TIMES

The rise to power of Yasuo Fukuda not only marks the end of the Koizumi era, but also an unprecedented setback for the neo-conservative forces who advocated the normalisation of Japan, and who attacked Sino-Japanese relations. It is a new era full of old people, and we will not see anything like the previous phase in Japanese politics, which was full of bold reforms, changes and surprises.

Editorial in South Korea's DONG-A ILBO

Fukuda has long stressed the importance of maintaining a good relationship with China and Korea. I sincerely hope that Fukuda's election will help restore the estranged Korea-Japan relationship. Japan can under no circumstances afford to continue its policy of avoiding issues relating to history. I hope that Japan will make a fresh start as a new member of the Asian community of nations under Fukuda's leadership.

South Korea's SBS TV

Change is expected in the Northeast Asian situation as [Fukuda] is stressing the need for dialogue with North Korea.

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