Monday, March 14, 2011

The Challenges Facing Japan's PM

When Naoto Kan, the Prime Minister of Japan, spoke to the nation on March 13, he did not mince words. In the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, Japan, Kan said, was facing its worst crisis since 1945, when the country was in smoking ruins. He reminded his listeners that they had overcome great challenges in the past, appealed to their sense of national unity and implored them to come together to rebuild Japan once again.

In a narrow sense, Japan — a rich nation with enormous resources of technology, social cohesion and an indefinable can-do spirit — surely will rebuild. The broader question is whether the exercise will compel its political establishment to face up to social and economic issues that, though well known since the bursting of the bubble economy a full 20 years ago, have a habit of being dodged — and whether Kan, 64, will be around to lead the charge

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