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Japanese Elections Shift Power And Move Japan To The Left

Elections in Japan have resulted in, to some degree, a shift to the left. Beyond ideological issues, the long-standing ruling party has been booted out and a more competitive two-party system for Japan may be in the offing.

( Above—A Buddhist Temple in Kyoto. Japan. Here is information about visiting Kyoto.)  

The Democrats have soundly defeated the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Do not view these party names through the prism of American party labels. The Liberal Democrats are the party of the right. The LDP has held power in Japan for all but a few months since the end of World War II.

A good explanation of what was at stake in Japanese elections can be found in this post at the blog World Elections. 

The blog Observing Japan has comprehensive posts on the political situation in Japan.

The new Prime Minister of Japan in likely to be Yukio Hatoyama. Here is his profile in the BBC.   

From that profile—

“In his manifesto, Mr Hatoyama said he wanted to improve people’s lives through increased welfare spending. “I want to approach policy from the perspective of the citizen, not leaving it to the hands of bureaucracy,” he wrote. “I want to create a horizontal society bound by human ties, not a vertically-connected society of vested interests.” Mr Hatoyama says he wants to raise spending on healthcare, child support and subsidies for farmers. But he has ruled out raising taxes to do this – prompting critics to ask where the money will come from.”

( Above –Japan as seen from space.)

In regards to the ideological shift as it impacts international policy, Democrats say they will reevaluate the Japanese military relationship with the United States and may no longer assist in the refueling of American ships headed to the War in Iraq. Japan may now look more towards it’s Asian neighbors and less towards the United States on security issues.  

Here is the New York Times story on the election.

Domestically, the ideological shift is caught up with what is the larger story of the election. The excerpt from Mr. Hatoyama’s profile gives some sense of what has been promised. Japan’s economy has been stagnant for many years and people in Japan are concerned about the impact of globalization.

Here is a Q & A from the BBC about policy differences between Democrats and the LDP. 

Yet articles I have read about the election suggest that weariness with the long-ruling LDP and a desire for a more competitive political system are a big reason why the Democrats have won. There is a widespread belief—seemingly correct—that the LDP has held power for too long and that the political system is rigged to a favor a certain few over the needs of the many.

For this desire for change to have real meaning, it will soon enough have to be accompanied by policy changes and a greater transparency in how Japan is governed.

Here are some basic facts about Japan. The population of Japan is approximately 128 million people.

(Below–Sapporo, Japan. Here is information about visiting Sapporo. )

August 31, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , ,

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