Posted by debito on August 31st, 2009
Hi Blog. Again, remote computer, on the road, so this time just a few thoughts based upon what I read in all the major newspapers this morning (just looking at the matrix of data), nothing insider or anything:
THE RAW NUMBERS: According to two major newspapers (Asahi and Mainichi, the others had slightly different numbers when they went to press), opposition parties got a total of 322 seats including Proportional Representation (308 for elected seats), gaining 195. Incumbent ruling parties got 140 (119 elected seats), losing 192. This is a landslide for the opposition no matter how you slice it, and an absolute majority of the 480 total seats in the Lower House. In terms of PR (180 seats total), The LDP dropped from 77 to 55, while the DPJ rose from 61 to 86. It was a rout.
THE AFTEREFFECTS: Former PM Aso (get used to that moniker!) almost immediately announced his resignation as party leader. But he showed just how much of an ungracious loser he is (as I mentioned in my last blog entry) when interviewed by being cold, abrupt, nasty, impolite, and pretty much impolitic when interviewed by all networks (let’s face it, Aso killed the LDP, and he’s gotta blame somebody else in his mind). And as noted yesterday in a very insightful comment, punditry was advising caution and fear (Tahara Souichiro’s opening speech in his debate program was scare-mongering; maybe it’s time to get someone younger to lead these debates) and flinty-eyed expectations of the DPJ overnight, as if we can’t quite trust the public to have spoken properly. People have just gotta get used to the LDP being clearly out of office for the first time, as the Yomiuri noted, for 55 years.
THE VOTERS REALLY DID SPEAK: Voting went up in every prefecture except Oita. The average was 69%, the highest since 1990. In terms of individual elected seats, the DPJ won in most prefectures, except for LDP strongholds in outlying Honshu (Yamaguchi, Shimane, Tottori, Fukui, Toyama, and Aomori), Kyushu (Kumamoto, Kagoshima, and Miyazaki), and Shikoku (Kouchi and Ehime). The DPJ kicked ass in the Nagoya area (all elected seats went DPJ), also seizing all seats in Shiga, Niigata, Nagano, Fukushima, and Iwate, then seizing almost all seats in Shizuoka, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, Hyougo, Mie, Hiroshima, Kanagawa, Chiba, Ibaraki, Miyagi, Akita, and Hokkaido. And in all Proportional Representation blocs, even those with prefectures that had LDP wins, the DPJ won more PR seats than the LDP (breaking even with Koumeitou support only in Okayama). Again, there’s no way for the LDP to put a bright face on all of this.
KINGPINS OUT. We got rid of a number of old farts that have long overstayed their welcome. Nakagawa the G8 Drunk. Sexual harasser Yamasaki. Controversial Kyuuma (from Nagasaki, who insinuated positive things about the atomic bombings), former PM Kaifu (former PMs don’t get kicked out; first time for decades), IIRC current cabinet member Fuyushiba, and a couple of others. Biggest embarrassment of the election: Koumeitou leader Ohta, who also lost his seat — and party leaders are supposed to be in safe seats; Koumeitou clearly paid a heavy price for not distancing themselves from Aso. Drawing a close second in terms of embarrassment was the number of Aso cabinet members (current and previous) who lost their seats entirely (again, Nakagawa, and his replacement Yosano). There may be more, don’t have the current cabinet list in front of me.
But with PR, many of the “zombie candidates” (who can run both in single-seat constituencies, and if they don’t get in they can stay in by PR) came out after midnight: Former cabinet ministers Machimura, Noda, Koike, and Takebe, for example. The oldest person I saw elected was 77 (Mr Fukui), the youngest 27 (a Mr Yokokume), both DPJ, both Minami Kanto Bloc.
BUT SOME STILL VOTED THE PERSON NOT THE PARTY: Former PMs Aso and Abe (and narrowly Fukuda) all maintained their seats. Former PM Mori, the kingpin with the “god’s country” remarks, just squeaked in, but in most cases when there was a close race with the LDP incumbent, the second-place opposition candidate got in with PR to balance it out. Former PM Koizumi’s son did inherit his father’s seat (which has done more to deligitimize this “reformer” in my eyes). But of the “Koizumi Children” (young LDP politicians riding K’s coattails to “reform the LDP”, and soon found themselves frozen out from this unsavable party), only two retained their seats; 65 lost. Awful but apparently popular twice-convicted crook (his case is still on appeal in the Supreme Court; he’s stalling for time) Suzuki Muneo got in again with his own party on PR.
More LDP notables: Nasty TV personality Hirasawa got back in his individual seat in Tokyo. Even nastier right-wing exclusionary xenophobe Hiranuma got in comfortably in Okayama. Daughter of former PM Obuchi (currently in the cabinet) was relected in Gunma in a landslide. BTW, anyone want to count for me the number of women that got elected this time and compare to previous? Heckuva lot!
In sum, a historic day. And it may change everything.
That’s all I time I have for now. More trends, please let the blog know, but I’m again on the road for awhile and may take a while to approve comments. Please be patient. Thanks for reading. Debito in Kurashiki