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JAPAN


Published: Mon, September 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.


JAPAN
Asahi Shimbun, Toyko, on election results: The Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has scored a stunning election victory. Together 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 an unbridled free rein.
Koizumi hardly spoke about any policy issues except postal services. The prime minister sidestepped the issue of constitutional amendment and foreign policy, which remains deadlocked on many fronts. We cannot hand him a blank check on those matters.
Minshuto, on the other hand, must not confine itself to a mere reshuffle in personnel. It must re-evaluate what the party stands for. The party cannot reconstruct itself without holding serious dialogue among its members even if its discord may have to be open for all to see.
ITALY
La Republica, Rome, on the effect of repeated terrorist alarms: 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 Sept. 11. ... Fear is extremely powerful. It could influence political power, redistribute resources, affect the political debate. It can modify policies and change our beliefs on 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 to protect our countries, not to frighten them.
DENMARK
Information, Copenhagen, on Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi: Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is the first leader in 50 years striving to introduce robot-like discipline in his party and actively attempt to either annihilate or humiliate critics 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 the (political) turn to the right in Tokyo.
NORWAY
Aftenposten, Oslo, on the IRA: The ugly scenes played out in Northern Ireland's capital Belfast during the weekend are a clear sign of the split and the unrest that remains, despite the Irish Republican Army laying down its arms and choosing a political path. The unrest is strongest on the Protestant side, and it was members of the 75,000-man Orange Order who were behind the riots and attacks on police.
There is no excuse for riots, arson, plundering and attacks. It is clear that the Protestant unionist leaders are taking the unrest too lightly, and must bear a large portion of the responsibility ... but there are deeper social and political causes.
GREAT BRITAIN
The Guardian, London, on Angela Merkel's foreign suitors: 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 SchrJoder, opposed the Iraq war, and have struggled to recover.
Clear policy differences are likely to persist. German backing for the UN's international criminal court, for lifting the EU's arms embargo on China, and Ms. Merkel's opposition to full EU membership talks with Turkey all potentially put her at odds with Washington.


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