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Fukuda's Resignation: Where Does Japan Go From Here?

Recorded on September 10, 2008

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's abrupt resignation has again thrown Japan's political landscape into turmoil. Fukuda's departure less than a year after assuming office - as was the case with his predecessor - raises concern that Japan will return to the revolving door pattern of ineffectual prime ministers serving brief terms that prevailed through much of the 1990s. The next prime minister will also be hampered in implementing foreign and domestic policies by a legislature split between competing parties and the obstructionist tactics of the opposition party.

Japan is at a strategic crossroads. Bold leadership is needed but unlikely in Japan's consensus-driven political system. There are serious consequences to Japanese inaction. Tokyo's unwillingness or inability to make tough decisions risks Japan losing influence and even relevance in a region increasingly dominated by an ascendant China. As a Chinese proverb cautions -- "Two tigers cannot share the same mountain."

The panelists will discuss the impact of Prime Minister Fukuda's resignation on Japanese domestic and foreign policies. The panel will also assess Japan's political future, the potential for stronger leadership, and what the next 6-12 months holds for Japan - continuing government gridlock or surprising progress?