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OK, Mr Hatoyama, you're in -- now govern

24 Comments
By Henry Hilton

Japan's Liberal Democratic Party has been put to the sword. The result of Sunday's general election is an unprecedented rout for the conservatives that surely ends forever its postwar mandate to run the nation. The near total humiliation of Prime Minister Taro Aso's LDP leaves the door open for a new, untested, center-left government under Yukio Hatoyama and his victorious Democratic Party of Japan colleagues.

The scale of the DPJ's triumph underlines the failures of successive LDP-led coalition cabinets to provide direction and clear-cut policies to a demoralized country reeling from economic pain and fearful for its future in a more competitive international environment.

The conservatives have long lacked effective leadership and will find the task of regrouping under a successor to Aso particularly daunting as it now possesses so few possible candidates in its thinned ranks. This could well give an opening to Nobuteru Ishihara whose hat is likely to be in the ring in any forthcoming contest.

The LDP's future will depend both on its ability to come up with a new champion and how Hatoyama's cabinet sets about tackling Japan's myriad problems. Cynics will doubtless contend that if the conservatives had to eventually lose power, they could hardly have picked a more opportune moment than this summer.

The current cocktail of high unemployment, the return of serious deflation, regional inequalities and an unwillingness on the part of the Democrats to come clean on certain tax increases could quickly become highly inflammatory.

It was surely the deep-seated unpopularity of a fumbling LDP rather than any particular enthusiasm for Hatoyama and his stated policies that gave the Democrats their opportunity to trounce the conservatives. The onus is now on Hatoyama to prove that he has the skills to tackle Japan's huge economic and financial issues. It clearly won't do any longer to keep insisting that putting the match to wasteful spending programs will automatically do the trick or to imagine that sorting out social welfare problems will be easy or cheap.

The electorate's expectations will have to be quickly brought down to earth. The belief that somehow the Democrats can conjure up a set of economic measures that will rapidly and painlessly get Japan out of its present mess, while rethinking U.S.-Japan relations and rapping the knuckles of arrogant civil servants, will have to be gently dispelled.

Hatoyama and his youthful parliamentarians will have a huge majority in the Lower House, though there are obviously few guides to any future performance. Yet the Democrats, whatever the outcome of negotiations with smaller anti-LDP parties, already have a numerical strength that for the moment leaves them in an unchallengeable position.

The Democrats must now decide on their priorities, determine how best to work with rather than against the nation's career bureaucrats and get on with the job of governing. Hatoyama has an unprecedented opportunity to show that he is up to the job.

© Japan Today

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24 Comments
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will govern like he campaigned, just do the opposite of what the LDP did not impressed with him, but was not impressed with Aso, maybe some more pain will bring a real leader out of the woodwork some of these DJP candidates are really lame, they were on those midnight shows, where the news is read whilst stripping, are they going to tell those Todai grads what to do at the different Ministries?

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This election has been great. If we can just now get rid of all the LDP incumbents next election, Japan will be a better place. But I guess they deserve a chance before we jump to conclusions.

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Beat Takeshi and Shinsuke Shimada were election pundits. The British equivalent would be having Jim Davidson and Jeremy Clarkson comment on a general election. "Politics" is a joke, especially in J-land.

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If only he had a backbone....Izawa is already circling.

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I can't really tell the difference between Hatoyama and his predecssors except that instead of handing out moneyh to postal/construction/agricultral workers, Hatoyama (or his wife) plans to hand out the money to their wives, so long as they are mothers.

KakaaTengoku Japan here we come. Perhaps this is the real Japan. Jimintou and the prewar reign of old men was perhaps an abberation.

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This will be fun. :)

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Isn't Hatoyama also a Todai graduate? Does this mean that the senior bureaucrats will no longer have to reduce all the issues to monosyllabic words for the benefit of the Prime Minister. As a student of the Japanese language, it will be rather refreshing to have a Prime Minister who does not butcher his native tongue.

On a more serious note, Hatoyama and his pals have been talking about wresting policy-making power from the hands of the bureaucracy. At the same time, however, I don't know how realistic such ideas are. Within the incoming administration, while there are some new faces with strong professional backgrounds (in finance, etc), there are also a lot of new members whose main claim to fame seems to have been their ability to strike a vein of populist dissatisfaction with the LDP. However, the political shelf life of such feelings is very short. As such, the question is what shall these people do next? With such shaky national finances, I don't know if policy-making power should be passed over willy-nilly to a bunch of populist baboons. Such a course of action might come back to haunt Japan.

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Hatoyama has a PhD in engineering from Stanford Univ. He is NOT another lawyer turned politician. Look at China. Most of the leaders there are engineers and not lawyers and they are doing a good job ruling their country. So there is hope for Japan.

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Are you kidding. He't the Japanese equivalent of Orrin Hatch. He's spent his whole political career complaining -- he doesn't know how to do anything else...

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PM Taro Aso knows that DPJ will win when he declared election. LDP Ministers needs some clean up. After PM Koizumi, 3 years, 3 PMs....no government stability. No stability even within LDP. This is just an LDP "TraPo" (Traditional Politician) clean up, LDP will be reborn soon. For now, let DPJ have some experience not only complains.

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The more things change, the more things stay the same. That should be the truth-in-advertising motto of both the LDP and DPJ.

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Everyone knows that it's Ozawa who's pulling the strings. Hatoyama is just a front man. The slight of hand pulled off by the DPJ is to make it look like "change" when in fact it's a return to the old backroom politics.

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Laohu, that's managerial engineering. the science of talking and doing nothing. he did a postdoc at TIT, then he could only get a position of assistant prof at Senshu. I'm not exactly impressed by his academic career.

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laohu1

Look at China. Most of the leaders there are engineers and not lawyers and they are doing a good job ruling their country.

...A good job in China ? You are kidding me ?

Hope that Hatoyama will not become an emule of the Chinese "fascist" !

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Yeah! you're in now and I haven't seen any changes yet, what the heck!

aw

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lol its been what 2 days? are you expecting him to change japan in two days? lol its not possible :P expecially with all the strange and weird rules that you have to go through to get any action anyway!

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"Japan`s Liberal Democratic Party has been put to the sword" - what a beautiful sentence! Mr Hatoyama will do a good job, and I hope he will bring many changes - thats what the Japanese people voted for. We should support him now.

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OK, PM-elect: Think Big and Act Bold!

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50 years of the LDP and now people want instant gratification and fixes to all the ills of society? Is this the US or Japan?

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Tatanka: "He's the Japanese equivalent of Orrin Hatch. He's spent his whole political career complaining -- he doesn't know how to do anything else."

Heh. Well, now's gonna have to learn how to do something else.

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Things are so screwed up that the DPJ won't fix much. They've been waiting how many years for this and their reign will only last until the next election.

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The DPJ won by a landslide, a very comfortable margin so they will probably not loose enough seats to loose control in the next election. I think they will be around for a good 10 yrs..

aw

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DJP has been considering giving the right to vote to chinese and koreas living in japan, those without japanese nationality why has this been not covered more?

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Hatoyama-san will start as PM on September 16...not 2 days ago.

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