The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jul. 8, 2011)
Thais should welcome chance for reconciliation
Recent developments in Thailand present an opportunity to end the antagonism and disorder that have hitherto divided the country and to realize national reconciliation. Thailand should take this opportunity.
The Puea Thai (For Thais) party, with former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's sister Yingluck Shinawatra as its candidate for prime minister, won a majority of the votes in the latest general election.
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva conceded his Democrat Party's defeat and made clear his intention to resign as party leader.
Puea Thai has formed a coalition with four other parties, excluding the Democrat Party, with Yingluck certain to be appointed as the country's first female prime minister shortly by a new parliament.
Yingluck is a businesswoman and political novice.
She calls herself Thaksin's "clone," but whether she shares his political ability is unknown.
In her election campaign, she advocated national reconciliation.
Thaksin should stay away
We hope the new prime minister will try to achieve political stability, while not following Thaksin's style, which was criticized for heavy-handed methods and money politics.
The focal issue for the time being will be whether or not Thaksin, who is in self-imposed exile abroad, will return home for a political comeback.
The former prime minister currently has a two-year jail term for corruption hanging over him.
Should he return to Thailand under amnesty, it will almost inevitably lead the country into turmoil.
While in office, the former prime minister moved ahead with various reforms, including efforts to mitigate poverty and to reorganize government ministries and agencies.
But when he was questioned over alleged tax evasion by a relative, he dissolved the House of Representatives. だが、一族の脱税疑惑を追及されるや、下院を電撃解散した。
The abrupt dissolution caused resentment among middle-class urbanites and groups with interests in the status quo, such as financial combines, bureaucrats and the military. All of this led to a coup d'etat in 2006.
This time, the country's military has indicated it will respect the outcome of the latest election.
They should not repeat their intervention in politics.
Even during Abhisit's 2-1/2-year administration, the country's turmoil continued.
Last year, a large number of people were killed or wounded in clashes between the military and pro-Thaksin protesters who had occupied part of downtown Bangkok.
There has been growing public disappointment with Abhisit over his lack of leadership for failing to bring the turmoil swiftly under control, and also over price increases.
Deep divisions persist
The victorious Puea Thai has garnered support from poor farmers and low-income city dwellers.
Divisions between it and the interests who support the Democrat Party are becoming ever more entrenched.
Whether or not these anti-Thaksin forces respond favorably to calls for national reconciliation will be key to the stability of Thailand.
King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who has served as a mediator at times of national crisis, is now 83 years old and is in poor health.
Democracy in the kingdom is now at a major transitional stage.
Thousands of Japanese companies and local affiliates are operating in the country, with Japan's investments representing the largest share of foreign capital.
The rising wages of workers have become the biggest issue for the Japanese companies.
Puea Thai pledged during the election campaign that it will drastically raise the minimum wage across the country. 貢献党は最低賃金を全国的に大きく引き上げると公約した。
Japanese companies and their affiliates may thus have a harder time in securing workers.
Efforts to legally hire workers coming from such neighboring countries as Laos and Cambodia have made little progress due to restrictions imposed by the Thai government.
We hope the new administration will realize an improvement in the country's labor market, including the relaxation of regulations.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 7, 2011)