Officially, the United States is studiously neutral in the German elections Sunday, but no one here would be much dismayed if Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder loses.
Last time around, Schroeder's campaign radiated hostility to the United States and since then his supporters have been blaming U.S. hedge funds for Germany's economic problems.
His opponent, Angela Merkel, is openly pro-U.S. If elected, she would ally more with us and the United Kingdom on foreign-policy matters and France's Jacques Chirac, whose sole foreign policy seems to be to frustrate ours, will find himself isolated.
Meanwhile in Japan, a staunch U.S. friend, Junichiro Koizumi, took a huge gamble by calling a snap election for last Sunday and won big, picking up 47 seats in the Diet. That gives him a free hand to privatize the post office, which is also a huge banking and insurance system with $3 trillion in assets, which either just sit there or get plowed into politically inspired public-works projects.
Koizumi rightly believes that money could be more efficiently and productively invested by the private sector.
The importance of these two elections is not just having friendly leaders atop these longstanding allies. Japan and Germany are the world's second- and third-largest economies, and their prosperity is important to our own.
Come Monday morning, it would be good to welcome a new German chancellor.