Tokyo has adopted a harder line toward the interminable “six-party talks” aimed at disarming Pyongyang’s nukes, making common cause with South Korea’s hard-line president, Lee Myung-bak, who is dealing with his own domestic unrest over the sinking of a South Korean warship by Pyongyang.
The narrowly contested leadership squabble is unlikely to resolve any of these issues. Neither a victory for the wily Mr. Ozawa nor a narrow win for the incumbent Mr. Kan will bring political stability.
An Ozawa defeat could lead to his bolting for a new political alignment — something he has done several times before. The result probably would not be the neat, ideology-based two-party division that many foreigners crave but the Japanese don’t seem to cotton to. Furthermore, the Okinawa base squabble is a hair shirt for both capitals that needs immediate attention before local November elections there further inflame the issue. That, too, may not happen in this environment.
• Sol Sanders, a veteran foreign correspondent and analyst, writes weekly on the convergence of international politics, business and economics. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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