Japanese voters drive out Rightist government

This video is called Japan DPJ win by a landslide – CCTV 083109.

By Peter Symonds:

Japanese voters sweep Liberal Democrats from office

31 August 2009

The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) routed the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in lower house elections yesterday. The Liberal Democrats have held power in Japan since the party’s formation in 1955, with the exception of an 11-month period in 1993-94.

The result was a landslide for the Democrats. According to the Mainichi Shimbun, the DPJ has increased its presence in the lower house from 113 to 308 seats. Its two small allies—the Social Democratic Party and the Peoples New Party—won 7 and 3 respectively. As a result, the DPJ-led coalition will have 318 seats, just short of the two-thirds majority needed in the 480-seat lower house to override an upper house veto.

For the Liberal Democrats, the outcome is devastating. The party’s seat tally slumped from 300 to 119. Its coalition partner, New Komeito, dropped from 31 to 21 seats. Five cabinet ministers, including Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, and party heavyweights such as General Council Chairman Takashi Sasagawa and former Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura lost their single-seat constituencies. Most will return to parliament via the 180 seats elected by proportional representation.

The remaining seats will be held by smaller parties and independents. The Japanese Communist Party retained its nine lower house seats. The Your Party won 5 and the New Party Nippon and New Party Daichi one each. Six independents were elected.

The Mainichi Shimbun estimated voter turnout at 69.3 percent—the highest since single-seat constituencies were established in 1996. An exit poll conducted by the newspaper found that about a third of people who described themselves as LDP supporters voted for the Democrats yesterday. Of those who said they supported no particular party, some 59 percent voted for the DPJ as against 23 percent of LDP.

The scale of the LDP’s defeat was underscored by the results in Tokyo. Of the single-seat constituencies in the capital, the Democrats won just one at the previous election in 2005. Yesterday, DPJ candidates took 21 of the 25.

Far from being a positive endorsement of the Democrats, the outcome reflected broad opposition to the LDP over deepening social inequality and the government’s support for the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Japan has been particularly hard hit by the global recession, which has led to sharp falls in exports and a wave of layoffs. Official statistics released on Friday put unemployment at a post-war high of 5.7 percent. Levels of poverty and homelessness are on the rise.

The Democrats appealed to voter disenchantment with a vague slogan of “change”. The party promised a number of limited handouts, including a child allowance, an end to highway tolls and income support for farmers. In foreign policy, the DPJ called for a more equal relationship with the US and closer economic and diplomatic ties with countries in Asia, including China and South Korea. It proposed ending Japan’s naval refuelling mission for US warships providing support for the US-led occupation of Afghanistan. …

For the Liberal Democrats, the defeat will certainly precipitate a deep internal crisis. Prime Minister Taro Aso has already announced that he will step down as party president. “The LDP has had four prime ministers in the last four years. People’s dissatisfaction and distrust about that came to the surface all of a sudden,” he told the media. …

It is not obvious who will replace Taro Aso as party president. Whoever does become leader will confront a party in turmoil. It is quite possible that the defeat will produce another string of defections as LDP parliamentarians look to their political future elsewhere.

See also here. And here. And here.

Japan’s opposition party won an overwhelming victory at the polls on Sunday pledging to increase social welfare, better protect workers and do away with American-style, pro-market reforms to lead the country out of its long slump: here.

The Japanese Elections and the Left: here. And here.

The ignominious electoral collapse of the LDP amid the greatest global economic crisis since the 1930s is another sign that politics, not only in Japan but internationally, is entering uncharted and stormy waters: here.

All candidates siding with advocates of the plan to build a new U.S. military base in Okinawa lost in all four Okinawa’s single-seat constituencies, and Japanese Communist Party Akamine Seiken calling for a retraction of the plan was re-elected from the proportional representation Kyushu-Okinawa bloc: here.

Japan’s new government: Promise and reality: here.

Has Japan’s Dolphin Slaughter Been Prevented? Here.

RIGHTS-JAPAN: Women Talk: ‘We Want Greater Gender Equality’: here.

Japan peace movement: Moving toward a world without nuclear weapons: here.

US and Japanese officials said on Monday that they plan to speed up negotiations over the relocation of a key marine base before President Barack Obama’s visit to Tokyo next month: here.

Thousands of people have protested on the Japanese island of Okinawa against plans for a US military base to be relocated there: here.

9 thoughts on “Japanese voters drive out Rightist government

  1. 3RD LD: Many LDP heavyweights swept away in DPJ’s landslide victory

    Aug 30 02:54 PM US/Eastern


    With Sunday’s House of Representatives election taking an enormous toll on the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party, many of its heavyweights fell at the hands of challengers from the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

    Although most of them managed to salvage a seat under the proportional representation system, that gives candidates a second chance to be elected, former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, former LDP vice president Taku Yamasaki and former defense minister Fumio Kyuma ended up being thrown out of parliament.

    Other high-profile losers included former Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, 78, former Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama, 85, who was the oldest LDP candidate in the contest, and LDP General Council Chairman Takashi Sasagawa, 73, as they were not on the LDP proportional representation lists due to their age under a party rule.

    It was Kaifu’s first election defeat in his 49-year career in the lower house, having won 16 consecutive terms since first being elected in 1960, including nine years in the opposition camp before he returned to the LDP in November 2003.

    Kaifu, who was prime minister from August 1989 to November 1991, is also the first former premier to lose a seat since 1963.

    Prime Minister Taro Aso, 68, who heads the party, narrowly escaped an embarrassing defeat, managing to win his 10th term in his Fukuoka No. 8 constituency after a close fight against a DPJ new face.

    His predecessors Yoshiro Mori and Yasuo Fukuda also overcame uphill battles in their constituencies.

    Nakagawa, 56, by contrast, apparently failed to regain voters’ confidence after stepping down as finance minister in February after appearing drunk at a press conference at a Group of Seven financial meeting in Rome.

    The son of a former farm minister, Nakagawa’s political career had seemed promising up to that point as he had held several portfolios including agriculture and economy.

    It is not Yamasaki’s first election defeat as he lost a seat in the 2003 House of Representatives election while serving as vice president of the LDP. Until he was reelected in a 2005 by-election, he served as special adviser to then Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

    Kyuma, 68, who became Japan’s first defense minister in January 2007 when the former Defense Agency was upgraded to the Defense Ministry, was defeated by DPJ rookie Eriko Fukuda, 28, known as the leader of a group of plaintiffs in a series of lawsuits filed by sufferers of hepatitis C who contracted the disease through tainted blood products.

    Amid the increasing unpopularity of Aso’s administration, six of his Cabinet members had to rely on proportional representation votes to remain members of the powerful chamber, having lost their single-seat constituencies to DPJ rivals.

    They are Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, 71, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Tsutomu Sato, 57, education minister Ryu Shionoya, 59, consumer affairs minister Seiko Noda, 48, disaster management minister Motoo Hayashi, 62, and administrative reform minister Akira Amari, 60.

    In addition to Yamasaki, 72, two other heads of the party’s eight internal factions — former Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura, 64, and former Finance Minister Bummei Ibuki, 71 — were beaten on their own turfs despite their clout within the LDP before being salvaged under the proportional representation system.

    Former LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa, 65, who wielded unparalleled clout within the LDP, claiming to be the heir to Koizumi’s reform drive and spearheading moves to oust the unpopular Aso in the run-up to the election, also survived thanks to the second chance.

    Former farm minister Tsutomu Takebe, 68, and former Defense Minister Yuriko Koike, 57, were also former Cabinet members with similar results.


  2. US base will stay on Okinawa

    Japan: Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada has said that a major US Marine base set for relocation will now stay on the southern Japan island of Okinawa.

    The relocation of the base, already agreed by previous Tokyo governments, had became a thorny issue between Washington and Japan’s newly elected government because of local opposition to the move.

    Mr Okada’s statement was the clearest sign to date that the new government would not accept the relocation.



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