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  • Quick update on Japan’s national election: WOW

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on August 31st, 2009

    Hi Blog.  Just a quick word from on the road on a remote computer:

    Wow.

    I thought the DPJ were going to win big.  But not this big.  Watching kingpin after kingpin fall in the LDP (not sure if they’ll be resurrected by the PR vote; results are not all in yet).

    To say the least, I’m very cheered by the result.  About bloody time.  More than five decades of the same party is far too long for any electoral system.

    And was anyone else watching former PM Aso as he was answering questions to the networks?  Refusing to say hello to anyone or thanks when done, just pulling his earpiece out all surly.  He really is a piece of work.

    Will try to comment in more detail tomorrow when I have some numbers and newspapers in front of me.  Arudou Debito in Kurashiki

    21 Responses to “Quick update on Japan’s national election: WOW”

    1. Chris B Says:

      A great landslide. I hope it really dies mark the beginning of a new Japan. Just hope the DPJ can keep at least some of their promises!

    2. David Says:

      I want to know if Koizumi’s son won or lost.

      — He won, darn it. But his “children” lost big. IIRC, only two rewon their seats. 65 lost.

    3. Graham Says:

      Will he sell off the country to Korea and China, like how so many Internet right-wingers are afraid of, or will they make some serious improvements to the country?

      We’ll have to just sit back and see what happens…

    4. jjobseeker Says:

      It certainly is a surprising victory, and very welcome, at least for those of us who are accustomed to changes in power when the people decide to speak their minds. However, I have been “monitoring” the coverage on the major networks and I have to say it’s pretty pathetic when a couple hours into the DPJs win, commentators and the like are already spouting words like “insecurity,” “doubt,” or even “fear” with regards to the DPJ as a party and assertions of “can they make their Manifest promises a reality?”; “we have to keep a strict watch on them!”; “there’s too many young, inexperienced newcomers” or “300 seats is too much!”
      As I have stated in a previous post, the Japanese suffer from a fear of new ideas and people. And I am disappointed at the utter air of doubt and skepticism in response to this victory. In any other country, there would be at least an air of hope; or relief that a breath of fresh air has come into the country. No, not here. It’s just the same level of trepidation, doubt, and mistrust of the “different” one can find in Japanese society at all levels. No one is celebrating. Not even the DPJ (for understandable reasons of course), but when commentators and so called “political analysts” brandish around opinions of how the DPJ has won too many seats, that their policies need to be strictly monitored, or that results need to be quickly seen, the only thing I have to say is, well folks, why haven’t you been saying that all along, especially after the last general election when Koizumi and the LDP won 300 seats? Where was you critical eye and skepticism then? And as much as this election represents the “voice” of the Japanese people, let’s not forget that same voice gave resounding power to an already conceited LDP 4 years ago.
      The least these news shows and the people of Japan can do is cut the DPJ a little slack. Reversing the course of 50 years of LDP politics isn’t going to be easy. I expect mistakes, but I am hopeful that we’ll finally see some improvement and evolution in Japan’s policies domestic and international.

      – Agreed. Well agreed!

    5. Deepspacebeans Says:

      @Graham
      I’ve always found the kind of people most highly political Japanese internet users are to be a matter of some strange amusement. While in the English language, the web space seems to be slightly dominated by those who would best be characterized as “the left”, Japan is most certainly the opposite. From my own personal experiences, it also seems to be a bit more vitriolic, as well. I suppose Japanese nerd rage knows no bounds.

      Overall, I am not surprised with the results of this election cycle, the added damage done to the Komeito was icing on the cake. I guess they were no able to distance themselves from their sinking ship partner adequately. I had almost thought they would come out with a slight gain. With all the rats jumping ship, I figured a few more would end up in their boat. Not at all an unpleasant turn of events, though.

    6. Yonatan Says:

      I’m sure even electricity and running water were complained about as being too “new and different” in this country at one time or another, but Japan eventually sucked it up and accepted them. I don’t meet too many Japanese who complain about either nowadays…

      The same goes for the subjects of non-Japanese residents, the DPJ regime change, or whatever. Japan doesn’t may not like the changes, but it will have to get used to them.

    7. john Says:

      Lets hope the leader can show leadership and not step down at the slightest infraction or mistake in government or by any of his ministers.It seemed as though 自民党 took turns every year as thought there was a line.I guess there is now no excuse not to deliver on suffrage with such a huge majority in both houses and also the fact that they made this promise.
      My guess is they won’t follow through (I hope I’m wrong) or only certain special resident groups will be given a local vote.
      They have a public mandate.They should use it, stay the course,be bold, and hopefully i can see some permanent residents voting at local level.

    8. Brad Says:

      I can’t agree more Jjobseeker. Watching the news channels last night, they had the tone of a funeral rather than an election.

    9. Icarus Says:

      Jjobseeker, you’re missing the point. The media is most likely very happy that the DPJ won in such a decisive way, but it’s easy for them to rack up cheap ‘credibility’ points by critically analyzing the newly elected politicians. It helps them look like hard-hitting journalists and has nothing to do with the hope for change.

      In fact, this win and the reactions from the DPJ almost completely mirror what was happening after Obama’s crushing defeat of McCain. You’re right that there is a lot of work to get done, but I think it’s better to think of it like this – now that they are elected, we should double the amount of criticism on everything they do less they become as complacent as Democrats did in the US. This victory clearly demonstrates the reform wanted by Japanese citizens, but just like in the 90s, if the DPJ screw this up, the pendulum will swing overwhelmingly back to the right.

      And just for the record, I’m not sure what news programs you watch, but all the ones I’m familiar with – Houdou station, News 23, etc. – are extremely critical of the government. Practically half of houdou station’s air time was dedicated to the wasteful spending and amakudari problems caused by the LDP.

    10. Graham Says:

      @John

      A recent poll by Sankei Shimbun says 95% of Japanese citizens are against suffrage for non-Japanese citizens. Is the DPJ going to push their agenda through, going against 95% of the population? Granted the pole number is from Sankei Shimbun…

      > only certain special resident groups will be given a local vote

      I’ve always been suspicious that, if they were to give suffrage, it will only be for the special permanent residents of Korean nationality (and maybe some Chinese). Again, we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

      – Link to the Sankei poll, please.

    11. jjobseeker Says:

      @Icarus
      Houdou Station is my preferred news program mainly for the points you brought up. In fact TV Asahi’s coverage was the most balanced and least “dread inducing” while keeping an eye on what needs to be done from here out. I certainly agree that news shows need to keep a better critical eye on their politicians and help inform the populace to make proper decisions, but the real problem here is where these TV stations get their sponsorships. The most terse and breezy election coverage was NTV, not surprising since it’s a Yomiuri Shimbun sponsored station and it’s head, Watanabe Tsuneo, is often seen meeting with LDP higher ups. So, its a bit of a misnomer when what is being sold as journalistic criticism is actually corporate (and dare I say LDP) gum flapping.
      And it’s certainly fair to criticize DPJ performance, but that would be once they actually start trying to get things done, not 2 hours into their landslide victory when they haven’t even moved into their offices. That was my original point.

    12. PaxAmericana Says:

      JJob,

      The people want to reverse the post-bubble period, not the last 50 years. And Americans are unhappy about the post-bubble years now, but not the dotcom, real estate, and Wall Street bubbles of the past decade or so.

      Also, the Japanese may just be more pragmatic than, say, Americans. A lot of Americans naively believed that electing Obama and Democrats would stop the wars or trillions for Wall Street.

      Yonatan,

      I’m not sure that the Japanese are so slow to adapt technologies. In fact, as I understand it, that’s part of what gave them their edge in past wars in East Asia. You are talking about topics that are more along the lines of political preferences, such as whether Australians should have voted to become a republic.

    13. Darkaura Says:

      Hi, I’ve been monitoring the Japanese elections for some time now and thank you Debito-san it is because of you that I did get interested in this. Even though I’m still in Canada, with reviewing the platforms of the LDP and the DPJ, I instantly knew that, and would have voted for the DPJ. Changes needed to be made and in order for that, a new part had to be given power. I may not be in Japan yet, but I plan to be in the future, and this only means good thing for foreigners in Japan.

      Again thank you for all the information on this site it has made me do a lot of thinking.

    14. AWK Says:

      [quote]…I’m not sure what news programs you watch, but all the ones I’m familiar with – Houdou station, News 23, etc. – are extremely critical of the government. Practically half of houdou station’s air time was dedicated to the wasteful spending and amakudari problems caused by the LDP.[/quote]

      Same here, interviews with most of citizens looekd like they are happy with result. Only obasan in their 80s or 90s were unhappy and didn`t believe in anything. Well…there is nothing it will change for them, but young have a chance.
      So, from now on let`s show our power as zainichis. Send faxes and congratulate DPJ, so may be some draft policies will be changed. Now DPJ will control lower house (more powerful than upper so far) and IDs card with chip, NHI requirement on visa renewal and fingerprinting of legal residents, all these can be changed. My faxes will go from tomorrow.
      http://www.dpj.or.jp/english/contact.html

      Let`s show them we exist and have voice too, even without voice, but we are humans not animals and criminals

    15. Hoofin Says:

      I blog a bit about the result today. http://wp.me/pAT5P-Q1

      I think a lot is going to depend on the coalition deals, and what Ozawa can manage with the 2010 Upper House election.

    16. Joe Says:

      I was actually impressed by what I heard from Shinjiro Koizumi (his district is next to mine, so I had a chance to actually hear him speak) Just because there is nepotism involved doesn’t mean that he cannot become a good politician, and I am happy to see him win the opportunity to prove himself as an opposition party member. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rise to a position of great power someday.

    17. Douglas Sweetlove Says:

      Hello all;

      What is the DPJ position on government fiscal responsibility? I am wondering when Japan will see a balanced budget. Japan has a crippling public debt that dwarfs that of most other nations. Does Hatoyama plan to run a deficit, or will he balance the books sometime in the future?

      Americans are starting to take sober second looks at the financial burden they are leaving to their children and grandchildren if the current policies there are not modified. Can Hatoyama say the same?

    18. Shaun Says:

      Like a lot of people commenting here, I never expected the DPJ to win with such a big difference in seat numbers. I was actually worried that the forecasts were such a lot of hype on the part of the mass media and that the electorate would come back with the LDP still firmly in power because of the fear of change bringing in the unknown. At best I thought that the DPJ would have to work a coalition (which they are going to do in any case). I certainly did not imagine a straight win. Well, what’s for the DPJ now? The way I see it is that they will have to act fast on their easier tasks in their Manifest and gain the trust of the electorate and so maintain their popularity for their first term so that they are elected into a second term where they can really get to work in making Japan move again. Otherwise, the electorate will go back to the “safe haven” of the LDP, the DPJ will be banished from the political center stage, and we’ll see another limitless reign of the LDP. That’s my few thoughts on this momentous day.

    19. Manule Says:

      Quoting (Will he sell off the country to Korea and China, like how so many Internet right-wingers are afraid of, or will they make some serious improvements to the country?)
      Well, things can only go better after the disastrous LDP era, I don’t see how they can become worse, and as for Korea and China I really hope that relations of mutual respect and cooperation replace distrust and resentment, I hope that the new government understand that empty apologies are not enough to heal the negative feelings of many asian nations towards Japan.

    20. Graham Says:

      > Link to the Sankei poll, please.

      Here’s the link. Sorry about that.
      (Japanese)
      http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/policy/090827/plc0908271948002-n1.htm

    21. jim Says:

      the more things change, the more they stay the same. I see that both ozawa and kan have returned from the dead again.and there going to also get very high cabinet positions, can you believe it? only a few months ago ozawa had to resign, and what do you know here he is back in the fold once again. how many lifes do these corrupt guys have, more then a cat. and they say a change is a coming, huh, where?

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