Only a miracle can save LDP now

By Henry Hilton

Japan's ruling political party is in almighty trouble. Liberal Democratic Premier Taro Aso is desperately unpopular, the party has just lost control of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly and its own bigwigs are squabbling among themselves as the prospect of defeat in the upcoming general election grows more probable day by day.

Certainly we have been here before, but this time there really does appear to be little hope of yet another great escape. Nothing, of course, should be completely ruled out and there is still more than a month before polling in which the seemingly doomed conservatives will try desperately to escape the hangman's noose. No one should count Japan's conservatives out entirely until after Aug 30's results are known and all informal backroom deals have been settled.

Yet few would deny that the LDP has been in decline for decades and that the opportunities for last-minute compromises and the cobbling together of seemingly improbable alliances are now slimmer than ever before. This time it looks like curtains for the LDP. Indeed you can bet your boots that some aspiring political scientist at Stamford or Sheffield will soon be telling us that the manner in which the LDP had managed to cling onto power for all but a few months since 1955 is the real story. Its eventual collapse in 2009 would then be seen as merely confirmation of existing electoral trends that no human could reverse for long.

The LDP's mega-problems simply won't go away. Since the glory days of photogenic Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who enjoyed saying that he was in the business of fighting elements within his own party, the party has failed to find anyone who was capable of even a modicum of leadership.

Not surprisingly, overseas audiences have trouble keeping up with the present revolving-door system whereby an LDP gent gains and then quickly loses the keys of the kingdom. Senior politicians within the G-8 system are reported to have had similar misgivings, arguing that it is almost counterproductive to cultivate recent Japanese premiers as they are so quickly replaced by yet another short-term individual. Since Mr Aso's days look numbered, the present system of appointing a new prime minister nearly every year can only continue regardless of who wins on Aug 30.

Aso, a scion of Shigeru Yoshida ,surely Japan's most distinguished postwar political figure, has achieved little in his months in office. His 12,000 yen handouts -- more in some cases -- that are now trickling through to the bank accounts of all residents may well help at the margin but he can hardly deny the economic storms that the nation faces.

With deflation back, industrial output down and jobless numbers up, it would take an exceptional political party in any democracy to win under such circumstances. Yet the LDP's problems are compounded by its familiar squabbling, the limit to how many seats its junior partner in office can deliver and, above all else, a seeming willingness among the large, urban-based, "floating" vote to back the opposition Democratic Party this time.

There may be little genuine enthusiasm for Yukio Hatoyama's Democratic Party; many reckon that it, too, has its fair share of dissidents and could yet implode, but the general sentiment appears to be that it is finally time for a change. The conservatives have only themselves to blame if, as expected, the public's current alienation is translated into a vote for the Democrats. Politics in Japan this autumn should certainly be worth following: interesting times lie ahead.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

Good News at last! The LDP are soon to be history.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

realist: don't worry. they have a few rabbits in their hats.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Have to agree with TumbleDry. Despite being loathed, if there are no competitors in the elections in the smaller places (which is often the case), the LDP will continue to hold onto seats.

Also, with the lack of enthusiasm about the entire political process, few people will vote, except those who are old and (likely) still on the side of the LDP. People complain about the LDP, but won't take time away from their precious weekend time to vote for someone they don't know. So, the addage of "Better the devil you know, then the one you don't" applies here.

And finally, there will likely be a scandal to pop up mere days before the election against the DPJ. The LDP will throw juicy meat before the mass-media, DPJ will have to apologize, and they will lose the election, again.

This isn't democracy here, its Feudalism in suits rather than in Samurai armor, but the style is still the same.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The fall of the LDP is good news. But the reality is that the Democratic party is no better equipped to lead Japan than the LDP. They are simply a different shade of the same lackluster political standard that has held Japan back for decades.

Japan needs leaders. And I don't mean some grey Ojisan pulled from the back rooms of some leadened party. Japan needs fresh blood in the form of a leader who wants to make history by converting Japan from decades of inaction to making Japan THE key regional player and a far more influential player world wide.

To do this he or she must lead a revolutionary revision of Japanese politics that puts out the old guard and replaces them with ambitious and smart people who want to do right for the working class people of Japan.

Now I know this is most a dream I am proposing here. But it doesn't have to be only a dream. To change it to reality Japanese people need to demand people like Osaka's governor who are willing to cut wasteful spending, curb corruption and make a few of the old guard angry in favor of the needs of the people.

Japan loves stars, what she needs now are a few smart rock stars of politics. Men and women who can speak their minds and get the people behind them. And I think there has never been a better opportunity for that.


The LDP is collapsing and people are looking for change. Almost no one believes the DPJ will be much better, but they are still likely to win next time. When reality shows that they are also not up to the job, the people will be looking for the answer. And that is when the doors for real political change will finally open in Japan. Let us just hope that some bright and ready individuals are there to take up the challenge.
0 ( +0 / -0 )

few people will vote, except those who are old and (likely) still on the side of the LDP

I am living on the countryside surrounded by elderly farmers. I can't confirm that those who are old are on the side of the LDP. On the contrary. Since the pension funds debacle the elderly are really fed up and angry. That is one major reason the LDP lost a large number of its supporters.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ldp members will quit and join dpj. nothing will change

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only miracles will save DPJ, when LDP falls.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan is a Democracy? And the miracle that will save them is everyone will do what they`re told.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Since the glory days of photogenic Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi

bit of a stretch there Henry...Zoomie was pretty crap too, just in comparison to the rest of these dolts he was for photogenic, that weird hair wasn't attractive to anyone except the most desperate old housewife...foreigners mostly laughed at it

0 ( +0 / -0 )

japan is a seniority based system...therefore, in order for anyone to get ahead, he must toe the party line, rather than come up with any fresh that by the time he's old enough to be considered in line for any sort of promotion, he's morphed into the old farts he's trying to replace...and that's why nothing will ever change here...ever...e..v..e..r

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tkoind2: I agree. Hashimoto (Osaka) would make a wicked PM. The problem is that he would never be voted to the position in the first place, because it's too much of an old boy's club and they've seen how Hashimoto has angered a lot of corrupt politicians/construction company presidents in Osaka. If Japan had a system whereby people could directly vote for Hashimoto he would get it in a flash. As it is he would have to join a bigger party (the DPJ is wooing him currently), and work his way up the ranks, which means in turn kow-towing to and kissing the a$$es of Ozawa and the like.

In other words, nothing will change here for a long, long time, and even then how much will change is questionable. The DPJ is going to be the exact same, if not worse, than the LDP, I just wonder if the Japanese will see that right away or not.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If the Japanese vote the DPJ into power, that'll be almost as big a brain fart as the Americans voting the Democrats into power.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good one Sarge. A Republican party in full-meltdown mode is certainly a better choice than the Social - oops, I mean Democrats. Get a clue.

The LDP certainly deserve to be thrown out on their butts, but there is also the fact that the DPJ is wholly unfit to govern. They have essentially become a party of permanent opposition. They're the Washington Generals to the LDP's Globetrotters. I'm not sure that things would improve at all if they were in charge. What bold policy initiatives have they announced? What is their vision for Japan? How do they plan to steer the country through the recession? They simply don't have any answers either. As cynical as it sounds, this election is pretty much a lose-lose scenario.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"I'm not sure that things would improve at all if they ( the DPJ ) were in charge"

Good one J Rock.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Liberal and republican parties are the worst thing, that comes over mankind. People, who only believes in the power of money like these brain farts worldwide are a misery to us. Of course de DPJ isn't ready to rule Japan, but is it the LDP or any other party in Japan? The problem is the whole political system. Let's say, in my country (Switzerland) there are 10 or so parties and 5 of them belongs to the Government that rules. All kind of people belongs to the assembly, from left- to middle- to rightwing. I won't say it work out all the time very well, but here the power between left and right is 50/50 (like the swiss vote for) and that's okay. It's always a misery in countries like Japan or the US that only one party rules. Their too powerful then. I hope, because I will live in my old days in Japan, the system will become better. But in the end, the japanese have to decide by themself...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Only a miracle can save LDP now - and miracles do happen especially when America gets involved.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The LDP doesn't need saving now. It will only be out for a couple of years, maybe even months, then will regain power. Not because they're great, but because the hopes are too high for the DPJ and they can't do any thing to change the system LDP has laid on Japan over their decades of ruling.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites