From the New York Times in the USA:
Facing Party Rift, Japan’s Prime Minister Calls Election
By MARTIN FACKLER
Published: July 13, 2009
TOKYO — Prime Minister Taro Aso said on Monday that he would call a general election late next month, after a bruising defeat in a widely watched local vote sank his Liberal Democratic Party deeper into its worst crisis in a half-century of power.
In a meeting with top party officials, Mr. Aso said he would dissolve Parliament next week and hold the elections for its lower house, which selects the prime minister, on Aug. 30. The sudden decision follows months in which Mr. Aso had been trying to put off the national elections, in part because opinion polls have shown that his Liberal Democrats are almost certain to lose.
Mr. Aso’s hand appeared to be forced, though, by a defeat on Sunday in a municipal election in Tokyo. The loss raised the specter of a revolt within his party, with a number of members fearing that the government’s support ratings, now in the high teens, will only continue to decline. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that the party may break apart if it finds itself in the unaccustomed position of losing power.
The Liberal Democrats have governed Japan for most of its postwar history, but recently the party has appeared unable to adapt to a changing era. Disgruntled voters increasingly blame the party for its failure to outgrow its traditional pork-barrel politics and find an end to the nation’s seemingly intractable political paralysis and economic decline.
“The Tokyo assembly vote pushed Prime Minister Aso into a position where he either had to dissolve the Parliament or resign,” said Ichita Yamamoto, a Liberal Democratic lawmaker. “The feeling inside the party is that he couldn’t put off the decision any longer.”
In the vote on Sunday, the opposition Democrats became the largest party in the Tokyo city assembly by winning 54 seats. Furthermore, the Liberal Democrats lost their majority in the chamber, capturing only 38 seats, their worst showing in 44 years. …
Mr. Aso and others have resisted calls for his removal, saying the party cannot afford to alienate voters with another change of leadership. When he took office last September, Mr. Aso was the fourth prime minister in two years, a rapid turnover that only reinforced the popular perception that the Liberal Democrats had lost their way.
From Finfacts in Ireland:
The LDP has only lost power once – – in 1993 – – and is comparable with Ireland’s dominant Fianna Fáil party, for its links with the construction sectors and toleration of endemic cronyism and nepotism.
About 35% of the Japanese workforce are temporary workers, earning less than the Irish minimum wage of €8.65 ($12.10).
See also here.
Sexism in Japan: here.
On December 29, 1934 Japan announced it would withdraw from the Washington Naval Treaty: here.