“The Japanese people aren’t really looking to him for inspiration or to make rousing speeches, but to get on with relief and reconstruction and resolve the nuclear crisis,” Mr. Nakano says.
Nakano shares a widely held view that no political leader could have prepared for the magnitude of the disaster. “These are not ordinary times. People aren’t interested in politics right now, only in rebuilding their lives and securing food and water. Kan’s not doing a perfect job, but I can’t think of a single person who would have done better. This is a terribly difficult and messy situation.”
Newspaper editorials have called for a coordinated political response to the crisis but have so far refrained from criticizing Kan, who issued a plea for national unity at a rare press conference on March 25.
The opposition’s promise to put aside partisan politics only stretches so far, however, as Kan discovered. The Liberal Democratic party leader, Sadakazu Tanigaki, turned down an invitation to become part of a grand coalition.
Kan had hoped to bring opposition politicians into an expanded cabinet and secure smooth passage for additional spending on relief and reconstruction.
But a senior Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) official told the Yomiuri Shimbun news outlet that Mr. Tanigaki feared guilt by association should the situation at the Fukushima plant deteriorate. "The prime minister may pass the buck to us,” the unnamed official said.