More quick thoughts on last night’s election: Looking at the numbers


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

12 comments on “More quick thoughts on last night’s election: Looking at the numbers

  • According to Kyodo — female winners a record 54, 11.3 percent, exceeding 10 percent level for first time. 40 are from the DPJ, eight from the LDP, three from the New Komeito, two from the SDP and one from the JCP.
    According to : 43 women in parliament after 2005 election, or 9%, which was a record then.
    I’m glad that it’s increasing but Japan still has a LONG way to go toward equal political representation for women!

    — As do most countries around the world, alas.

  • > BTW, anyone want to count for me the number of women that got elected this time and compare to previous?

    『女性、最多の54人当選 衆院議員、全体の45%が交代』






    — Excellent, thanks for that!

  • Debito, I think that the “assassin” who was sent after former PM Mori’s seat in Ishikawa 2 was a 33-year-old temporary worker. Her name is Mieko Tanaka. She almost won the district seat, but she did get a PR seat in any event. So she can say hello to him down in Nagatacho.

    That is pretty good for 33.

  • There was a lot of scepticism in the US after Obama’s victory, but by not backing down and making some early significant changes; he has fought off the detractors for now. When New Labour came to power in the UK, they also made some early changes of significance that gave them some breathing space to build up a momentum. I hope the DPJ don’t lose their nerve because of all the media detractors.

  • Even with the landslide victory and the campaign promises, how much real change is expected? There has been so much disappointment in the US amongst Dems because even with the majorities, very little has been done, and the idea of “Bipartisanship” has nullified or watered down the “Real change” that was expected after the election.

    I’m a novice in terms of understanding Japanese government, but after 55 years of LDP dominance, I would expect a lot of pushback against the changes that would be required to fix the system, especially amongst the bureaucrats. Plus, I understand that a lot of the new party members are really the old party members that switched sides.

    What is the feeling there? Is the optimism justified, or will this become a “Same S**t, Different Party” government?

  • the fact is NJ with PR still dont have the right to vote, and until they have the right to vote there voices will not be heard. why call them (permanent) if there not treated like permanent residents.I cant even understand while in the heck do they even have this SOR category when they dont even have the right to vote? hurray its 2009, and japan finally has a two party system. I guess as always in japan, better late then never.

  • Jim,

    The irony really comes when you consider that permanent residents will be issued 在留 cards. 在留, of course by definition, is a temporary, non-permanent residency for a specific amount of time. (在住 would be more appropriate.)

  • Next step for Hatoyama: rein in the bureaucrats — or the LDP will continue to rule by proxy and frustrate any meaningful reform!

    They have threatened as much in a Yomiuri editorial of Aug. 31, and I quote:

    “The DPJ has set a goal of ‘bidding farewell to bureaucrat-led policymaking.’ But it should not be under the illusion that bureaucrats will dance to the party’s tune simply by establishing a politician-led ‘National Strategy Bureau’ or by assigning a bevy of lawmakers to positions within each government agency or ministry. Lawmakers should know that only when they win the trust of bureaucrats will they be able to effectively implement policies.”

    This whole line of reasoning is perverse, subordinating as it does rule by the people to the narrow interests of unelected public officials.

  • Debito, I don`t know where to put but you may help. Here it is
    Petition to GoJ regarding NHI requirement from April 2010.
    Please let others know and sign. Good there is someone else to fight for this, because here is not always effective. Hope next move will be to amend fingerprinting and photographing for returning/re-entrance legal residents.


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