Tokyo Notes

Still Waiting

Toyota chief, Japanese Prime Minister both face questions over leadership.

More tomorrow on the ongoing problems swirling around Toyota. It was certainly a bruising encounter for Tokyo chief Akio Toyoda who appeared before US lawmakers to answer questions about how much the company knew about the safety problems with the carmaker’s vehicles in the United States.

While Toyoda toiled in Washington, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s government is struggling to find its feet here in Tokyo. With an eye on upper house elections later this year the Democratic Party of Japan appears to be putting aside a co-ordinated policy vision and focusing on securing an outright majority.

But with a painfully slow recovery, aging population and public debt nearing 200 percent, how much longer can the country wait for clear, decisive leadership? The party is meanwhile suffering in the polls. A new poll in the Asahi shows the prime minister’s approval rating has fallen below 40 percent for the first time since he took office.