Afghanistan: proud of the first parliamentary election in 3 decades. Germany: heading to limbo. Japan: clear sailing
Press pride on Afghan historic day
Papers in Afghanistan reflect a sense of achievement following what most see as a successful completion of the country’s first parliamentary election in over 30 years
The article quotes four independent newspapers, an accomplishment as of itself.
Across the world in Germany, according to The Economist
The German election has ended in deadlock, with Gerhard Schröder’s party coming from behind to snatch almost as many votes as Angela Merkel’s CDU, which had been expected to win comfortably. The hung vote is bad news for the reforms that Europe’s largest economy desperately needs.
The article ends by saying, “. For if Germany remains stuck in protracted political paralysis, it would be bad news not just for Europe’s biggest economy, but for the entire continent.”
Exactly the opposite was the result of the Japanese elections: also at The Economist:
IN A country that so often settles for mixed messages, the stunning victory of Junichiro Koizumi this week is a clear signal from Japan’s voters. They are ready and eager to break with outworn special interests and modernise the ties between their government and the economy. The public may not know quite how to go about it; but having given their champion a clear mandate, and with economic recovery at last gathering force, the Japanese have more cause to be optimistic than they have had for a very long time.
Additionally, Koizumi’s big win has foreign-policy consequences (emphasis mine)
Koizumi’s victory will make more likely a controversial revision of Japan’s constitution. Mainichi Shimbun, a leading newspaper in Tokyo, found that 84 percent of those elected to the new House favored removing political restrictions on Japan’s armed forces. The socialists and communists can be counted on to oppose that vociferously.
In addition, Koizumi is expected to insist that Japan, whose bid to become a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council has been blocked so far, be given a greater say in U.N. deliberations. Japan is second only to the United States in financial contributions to the U.N., providing 18.8 percent of the U.N. budget last year.
That is more than the combined contributions of Britain, France, China and Russia, the other four permanent members of the Security Council.
. . .
Koizumi’s main foreign challenge will be to forge new relations with China. As Thomas Berger has said: “The Japanese are getting fed up with China, and Chinese policy since the mid-1990s has done a lot to provoke them. At the same time, Japan is in Asia, China is a growing presence in the region, and Japan has to adjust itself to that reality.”
Already hints coming from Tokyo say Koizumi is considering a summit meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Another meeting may be proposed with President Roh Moo Hyun of South Korea, who has been antagonistic toward Japan.
Koizumi can be expected to be firm in negotiations with North Korea intended to persuade “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il to give up his nuclear weapons, to reduce the threat from North Korean missiles, and to get an accounting of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea.
Today’s headlines: North Korea Says It Will Abandon Nuclear Efforts. Coincidence? We’ll find out in time.