- The Washington Times - Friday, September 16, 2005

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world

Asahi Shimbun

Stunning election results

The Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has scored a stunning election victory. With its coalition partner, New Komeito, the ruling parties hold more than 320 seats in the Lower House, accounting for two-thirds of all seats in the chamber.

The ruling parties are now enormously powerful. They are in a position to implement a wide range of policies. But they should not forget that they bear a heavy responsibility with regard to safeguarding the democratic system. That means the parties must listen to minority opinion. We urge them to exercise self-restraint and maintain an objective attitude. They should not be deluded into thinking they have a free rein.

Mr. Koizumi hardly spoke about policy issues except postal services. He sidestepped the issue of a constitutional amendment and foreign policy, which remains deadlocked on many fronts. We cannot hand him a blank check on those matters.


The Japanese landslide

COPENHAGEN — Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is the first leader in 50 years striving to introduce robotlike discipline in his party and actively trying to annihilate or humiliate all criticism and opposition. His landslide election win is not likely to make him more sympathetic to dissident voices.

The question is also how he will act to normalize relations with the neighbors in China and South Korea, both now looking with growing anxiety at Japan’s [political] turn to the right.

The Guardian

Merkel’s foreign suitors

LONDON — Angela Merkel, tipped to become Germany’s first woman chancellor, is being courted by a growing line of foreign suitors. Tony Blair sought her out during a fleeting visit to Berlin in June. France’s presidential hopeful, Nicolas Sarkozy, welcomed her to Paris. And the White House hopes a new chapter is about to begin. But to varying degrees, all may be disappointed. At first glance, a victory for Ms. Merkel’s conservatives holds obvious attractions for the Bush administration. Relations reached a post-war low after the current chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, opposed the Iraq war. …

Clear policy differences are likely to persist. German backing for the U.N.’s International Criminal Court, for lifting the EU arms embargo on China, and Ms. Merkel’s opposition to full EU membership talks with Turkey all potentially put her at odds with Washington.

Her anti-Turkish stance has gone down well in France where the reform-minded Mr. Sarkozy hopes to win Ms. Merkel’s backing for his idea of an expanded core group of leading EU nations. In contrast, President Jacques Chirac will want to replicate the Franco-German axis that he forged with Mr. Schroeder on EU budget, agricultural, and multilateral policy issues. …

Ms. Merkel’s handling of Russia could prove to be her biggest foreign policy test. She assured President Vladimir Putin last week that their partnership would be “an important priority.” That seems realistic, given Germany’s reliance on Russia for up to 40 percent of its oil and gas supplies. But the German right is critical of Moscow’s human rights record.

La Repubblica

Repeated terrorist alarms

ROME — What should secret services do? Should they frighten or protect the country? Politicians underestimate the political result of repeated and clearly absurd alarms. Americans have already experienced what a powerful instrument fear is, after September 11. … Fear is extremely powerful. It could influence political power, redistribute resources, affect the political debate. It can modify policies … and change our beliefs about the present and the future, on conflict and security, freedom and safety. There are too many false alarms, that have unnecessarily become public. Maybe we should ask intelligence services to protect our countries, not to frighten them.

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