Sun Aug 30th, 2009 at 03:35:55 AM EST
As you may have read in the NYT, we are headed for a general election of the lower house on Sunday. If polls are to be believed, the 50-year old one-party rule by conservative Liberal Democrats (LDP) is likely to end tomorrow. Instead the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will gain a super majority. Here are a few projections by Japanese mass media of likely distribution of 480 seats:
Asahi Daily (liberal): DPJ 320: LDP 100
Yomiuri (about as informative as Pravda was): DPJ >300: LDP 100?
Sankei (conservative propaganda): DPJ >300: LDP 130
This is more than a change. This will be abrogation of whatever LDP stood for. So, I am lucky enough to see the day when Japan finally withdraws from one-party rule coalition in this part of the world of PRC, North Korea, Japan and Singapore. What are we smoking?
from the diaries - Nomad
It is only 4 years ago that LDP, guided by Koizumi, enjoyed a sweeping victory by gaining 300 seats. The party platform then called for a "reform" by introducing "market-oriented" policy (when the economy is good). As a result, employment practice has become far more flexible for employers, the capital gain tax was lowered, and the postal service was privatized. Indeed, as from 2003, the Japanese economy was growing, and the government and mass media kept feeding the public with the "reform-is-working" mantra. Most also felt a bit of pride when Koizumi joined the coalition of the willing in Iraq.
Disillusionment came quickly. First, the national healthcare of the elderly. In an attempt to reduce the medical cost, the government carved out the population over 75 years and covered them in an independent public health plan in 2006. Needless to say, this plan makes only bureaucratic sense; to show savings in other national health plans and claim the officials are doing a decent job. The elderly felt, not without justification, they will be forced to pay more for the healthcare and felt betrayed. Then came the news that payment records of the national pension premiums are missing for tens of millions of people. In the meantime, the reform contributed to a substantial income disparity. The public was so shocked that the LDP lost a majority in the upper house election of 2007.
The final blow came with the economic crisis since last fall. Japanese saw that the promise of reform was empty as the economy began, again, to crumble. In fact, the temporary boom had been export-driven, thanks to America's and China's huge bubble. It is no wonder that when the bubble finally burst, the Japanese economy suffers.
Interestingly, the mainstream American foreign policy experts appear deeply suspicious of this upcoming victory of democracy (even though our election is generally clean compared to Afghanistan, and we can count the votes accurately), as DPJ's head Hatoyama attempts to draw a line with globalism in his NYT opinion. Well, experts, don't worry. Hatoyama opposed the Iraq war. He is, I believe, far better than George Bush.
[Update: 8:10 pm JST]
The national broadcasting is already calling the election for DPJ in a landslide. Exit polls:
DPJ 298-329: LDP 84-131 Wow