Author Topic: Opposition Democratic Party of Japan wins election in landslide  (Read 1810 times)

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Opposition Democratic Party of Japan wins election in landslide
« on: September 01, 2009, 05:41:25 AM »
Opposition Democratic Party of Japan wins election in landslide

The largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) scored a landslide victory in Sunday's general election, capturing 308 of the 480 seats in the House of Representatives.

The DPJ is set to take over the reins of government, putting an end to the 10-year-old coalition government comprised of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito (NKP).

DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama will be elected prime minister at a special Diet session expected to be called sometime around Sept. 14, and form a DPJ-led Cabinet.

The ruling coalition suffered a humiliating defeat with its pre-election strength plunging from 331 to 140.

The focal point of Sunday's general election was whether the DPJ would take over the reins of government, or would the LDP-NKP coalition stay in power.

Following the massive defeat, Prime Minister Taro Aso said he would resign as LDP president. "I must assume responsibility (for the election outcome)," he said.

Vote counting began immediately after almost all of about 51,000 polling stations across the country closed at 8 p.m.

The DPJ won 308 seats, the LDP 119, NKP 21, the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) nine, the Social Democratic Party (SDP) seven, the People's New Party (PNP) three, the Your Party (YP) five, the New Party Nippon (NPN) one and the New Party Daichi one, while the Japan Renaissance Party (JRP) won no seats. Six independents were also elected to the chamber.

The DPJ suffered a massive defeat in urban areas in the previous Lower House race in 2005. Its current acting leader Naoto Kan was the only winner of a single-seat constituency in Tokyo. But the party won 21 of Tokyo's 25 electoral districts this time.

Of the 480 seats, 300 are allocated to single-seat constituencies (SSC) while the remaining 180 are allocated to proportional representation blocs (PRB).

Voter turnout in single-seat constituencies is estimated to be 69.27 percent, slightly above that in the previous election in 2005, which stood at 67.51 percent. The figure is the highest since the current election system combining the single-seat district and the proportional representation system was introduced in 1996.

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DPJ must fulfill promises it made to the public
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2009, 05:52:03 AM »
DPJ must fulfill promises it made to the public

It was truly a watershed election. Heavyweights and veterans in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) dropped like flies in battles against new, previously unknown candidates. It was evidence that the people categorically chose change, bringing about a historical transfer of power.

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won over 300 seats in the House of Representatives, marking a landslide victory and the establishment of a new government centered around the DPJ. Not only did the LDP fall from its position as the largest bloc in the chamber for the first time in history, it suffered a devastating defeat, decreasing its pre-election strength by nearly two-thirds. It signaled the collapse of the LDP-Komeito coalition government.

Japan was long under a single-party rule, without the democratic convention of parties alternately taking the position of the ruling party through elections. The election on Sunday was the first time in post-war Japan that a government was selected front-on from between two major parties.

Even while the public harbored apprehensions about the DPJ, it was the sense of urgency that there was no way out of the current deadlock without a political breakthrough that generated this tremendous seismic change. Many challenges await the new government to be headed by DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama. It must bring about change without growing complacent in numbers, and with the spirit and readiness to revamp Japanese politics.

With the collapse of the LDP-Komeito coalition government, we have gone beyond what could be described as a shift in the political current, to something more akin to a revolution. The 70-percent voter turnout is evidence of the public's interest and determination to transform politics. The public's resoluteness was exemplified in the breakdown of traditional LDP strongholds. The public desire for change led to the replacement of old hands with younger generations.

Still, regardless of how easily a snowball effect can take place in a single-seat constituency system, the drastic changes that have occurred cannot be explained without looking at changes in Japan's political and social structure.

The long-term basis of the LDP's solid governing structure was comprised of safeguarding the interests of industries and organizations, and administrative management carried out by bureaucrats. When the economy grew stagnant and various problems including the budget deficit further worsened, the reforms of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi appeared on the scene. Calling for a smaller government, a facet of which was postal privatization, the LDP won an overwhelming victory in the 2005 general election. It appeared as though the party had made a comeback.

However, when the public's concerns for their livelihood surged with problems concerning healthcare, pensions, gaps between the rich and poor and rural impoverishment, the LDP struggled to come up with a new course of action. As the Diet lay "twisted" due to the party's crushing defeat in the House of Councillors election, two prime ministers stepped down in the middle of their tenures, exposing the party's inability to run the government. The public's dissatisfaction toward the government of Taro Aso, continually postponing dissolution while it remained incapable of wrapping up Koizumi's reforms, reached its peak.

Furthermore, the LDP's vote-collecting machine comprised of industries, farmers and local assembly members rapidly deteriorated and fell apart as a result of Koizumi's structural reform policies. Second- and third-generation politicians held on to important posts and the party suffered a shortage of valuable human resources. It's hard to say with any certainty that Aso had the leadership qualities necessary to cope with various difficulties. The party suffered from systemic fatigue, and became, in effect, "broken."

The DPJ, on the other hand, advocating a transfer of power, succeeded in addressing such issues as people's livelihoods and a move away from bureaucrat-administered politics in its manifesto, even as the LDP remained unable to escape industry interests and bureaucratic meddling. The fact that voters chose the DPJ as the result of approximately 40 days of heated debate after the dissolution of the House of Representatives is of great significance.

Yet, setting sail after securing so many seats in the Lower House entails certain risks, for the greater the expectations, the greater the disappointment when those expectations go unfulfilled. It goes without saying that the DPJ must refrain from relying merely on the sheer number of its members in the Diet to direct the course of government. With the Upper House election set to take place next summer, the DPJ will be forced to show evidence that it has overhauled Japanese politics.

The swift establishment of a framework that allows for political leadership is essential. Without a departure from the "bureaucratic Cabinet" system in which a vertically divided bureaucracy stands at the helm of administration, the DPJ may become a repeat of the Hosokawa Cabinet, which failed to steer the bureaucracy.

The party's currently vague diplomatic and security policies should also be defined through discussions with coalition parties. Voters have cast their precious votes to the DPJ knowing that doing so posed risks, including the fact that the party's measures to secure funding still remain unclear. The DPJ must take to heart that its members were not voted into government from an abundant faith in their ability to run it.

The LDP, too, has a heavy responsibility as the new opposition. The party's downfall was a result of its lingering in a position of comfort even as its raison d'etre was called into question with the end of the Cold War and the burst of the economic bubble. Without a comprehensive review of itself, the very survival of the party is in danger.

It's too early to say that the election has realized a two-party system between the LDP and DPJ. But the practice of determining the framework of government through elections must be firmly set in place.

Faced with many pressing issues, such as the economic crisis, public finances, pensions, and the rebuilding of the healthcare system, the new government has no choice but to fulfill the various promises it has made to the public.

Finally, voters who handed the reins of government to the DPJ have a responsibility, too. Japan has entered an age in which now, more than ever, the public must participate in and monitor politics.

Original Japanese Post


社説:衆院選、民主圧勝 国民が日本を変えた 政権交代、維新の気概で

 まさに、怒濤(どとう)だ。自民党の派閥重鎮やベテランが、無名だった新人候補にバタバタと倒されていった。国民は断固として変化を選んだ。歴史に刻まれるべき政権の交代である。
 衆院選は民主党が300議席を超す圧勝を収め、同党を中心とする政権の樹立が決まった。自民党は初めて衆院の第1党から転落するだけでなく議席が3分の1近くに激減する壊滅的大敗を喫し、自公政権は瓦解した。
 選挙を通じ政権を担う第1党が交代する民主主義の常道が、日本の政治では長く行われずにいた。政権選択が2大勢力で正面から問われての政権交代は、戦後初めてである。
 
◇歴史的な体制の転換

 民主党に不安を抱きながらも政治を刷新しなければ閉塞(へいそく)状況は打破できない、との国民の切迫感が、すさまじい地殻変動を生んだ。鳩山由紀夫代表を首相として発足する新政権の前途は多難だ。だが数をおごらず、政治を一新する維新の気概と覚悟で変化を国民に示さねばならない。
 「風」などという段階をはるかに超え、革命的とすら言える自公政権への決別だ。約7割という投票率が国民の関心と、政治のあり方を変える強い意志を物語る。その象徴が、金城湯池とされた自民常勝区の崩壊だ。変化を求める民意は、世代交代による人材の入れ替えに発展した。
 政権交代と言えば、93年衆院選で成立した細川内閣も確かに非自民政権だ。だが、第1党はあくまで自民党で、争点は政治改革だった。保守合同による自民党誕生で成立した「55年体制」は同党が唯一、政権担当能力を持つ意味では続いていた。
 政権選択を目指し小選挙区が導入されて5回目の衆院選で、その体制についに終止符が打たれた。投票による政権交代という民主主義本来の機能回復を、私たちは政治の進歩として率直に評価したい。
 それにしても、いかになだれ現象が小選挙区で起きやすいとはいえ、政治、社会の構造変化を抜きにこの激変は説明できまい。
 自民党支配の源泉は業界・団体への利益配分、官僚による行政運営という強固な統治構造にあった。経済成長が行き詰まり、財政赤字などのひずみが深刻化する中で登場したのが小泉改革路線だ。郵政民営化など「小さな政府」を掲げ05年衆院選に圧勝、党は再生したかに見えた。
 しかし、医療、年金、格差や地方の疲弊を通じ国民の生活不安が急速に強まり、党は路線見直しをめぐり迷走した。参院選惨敗に伴う「ねじれ国会」のなか、現職首相が2度も政権を投げ出し、政権担当能力の欠如を露呈した。小泉政治を総括できぬまま解散を引き延ばす麻生政権に、国民の不満は頂点に達した。
 しかも、小泉路線の下、業界、農村、地方議員など党を支えた集票マシンは急速に衰え、離反した。2世、3世が幅を利かせ人材も不足した。麻生太郎首相が難局にあたるリーダーの資質を備えていたとは言い難い。制度疲労をきたし、自民党はまさに「壊れて」いたのだ。
 一方、政権交代をスローガンとする民主党は「生活重視」「脱官僚」をマニフェストに掲げ、自民党が業界重視、官僚主導から脱せぬ中、争点の提示に成功した。衆院解散から約40日の論戦の結果、有権者が民主党を選択した意味は重い。
 だが、多数の議席を得た船出は、逆の意味で危うさをはらむ。期待がふくらむほど、裏切られた時の失望も大きい。数を頼みとする政権運営を戒めるべきことは当然だ。来年夏に参院選が控える。政治の変化の証明を待ったなしに迫られよう。

 ◇自民は解党的出直しを

 政治主導が可能な体制の速やかな構築が必要だ。縦割り省庁が行政を主導し続けた「官僚内閣制」を脱却しないと、官僚操縦に失敗した細川内閣の二の舞いを演じかねない。
 あいまいな外交・安保政策も他党との連立協議の過程で明らかにすべきだ。国民は財源対策の説明のほころびなど、リスク承知で1票を投じた。政権担当能力を十分に信用しての圧勝と過信してはならない。
 野党となる自民党の役割も重い。そもそも東西冷戦終結やバブル経済が崩壊した時点で存在意義が問い直される中、政権に安住し続けたことが転落を招いた。真剣な総括なくしては、党存続もおぼつかない。
 今選挙を民主、自民両党による2大政党政治の実現とみるのは早計だ。だが、選挙の審判で政権の枠組みを決するというルールは定着させねばならない。
 経済危機、財政、年金、医療の立て直しなど喫緊の課題は多い。新政権は、国民との約束である公約を実行してみせるしかない。
 そして、かじ取りを委ねた有権者にも責任がある。日本政治は、これまで以上に国民が当事者として参加、監視する新時代を迎えたのだ。

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Ozawa to continue as campaign chief in wake of DPJ
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2009, 05:56:56 AM »
Ozawa to continue as campaign chief in wake of DPJ victory; Cabinet still an open question

Former Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Ichiro Ozawa will not be part of the new Cabinet, but with an eye on next year's House of Councillors elections looks to remain the party's campaign head.

Furthermore, in preparation for DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama's rise to the post of prime minister in mid-September, the party will enter discussions with the Social Democratic Party and People's New Party -- which cooperated with the DPJ during the recent election campaign -- on forming a coalition.

With more than 300 Lower House seats in hand, Hatoyama said early Monday at the DPJ election night headquarters that the party would move forward with the three top party officials in the lead, revealing that the job of forming alliances and transferring power from the Cabinet of Prime Minster Taro Aso will fall to DPJ Secretary-General Katsuya Okada and his fellow party executives.

While the DPJ had considered forming a transition team from leading party officials and prospective members of the new Cabinet, Hatoyama stated that he had no leading candidates in mind for key Cabinet posts at present. "We'll decide all in one go," he said. Rather than forming a transition team, the party intends to name the entire Cabinet after the nomination of a new prime minister in mid-September -- most likely Hatoyama.

Regarding Ozawa's position in the post-election DPJ, Hatoyama stated to public broadcaster NHK that the party will "consider the issue while looking forward to next year's House of Councillors election. There are those who wish Ozawa to continue in his current capacity (as election chief)." Should Ozawa take command of the campaign to capture a majority in the Upper House, his influence within the party will certainly grow.

Meanwhile, Okada also revealed to NHK that he expects to remain in his current party post, leaving him outside consideration for a Cabinet post.

Original Japanese post

選挙:衆院選 民主・小沢氏、参院選も指揮 党務に専念 岡田幹事長留任の方向

 政権交代への準備に向け、民主党は政権移行作業に着手した。焦点の小沢一郎代表代行は来年の参院選をにらみ、入閣せず、引き続き選挙担当の代表代行の座にとどまる見通しとなった。

 また、9月中旬の鳩山政権発足を目指し、31日以降、社民、国民新両党に連立協議を呼び掛ける。

 鳩山由紀夫代表は「300議席超」が確実な情勢となったことを受けて31日未明、東京・六本木に開設した党開票センターで記者会見し、「現在の三役中心に骨を折っていただく」と表明。岡田克也幹事長ら現在の執行部に連立協議や、麻生内閣との政権移行協議にあたらせる考えを表明した。

 民主党内では当初、党の主要幹部や重要閣僚の内定者から成る政権移行チームが政権移行作業を担うことを検討していたが、鳩山氏は会見で一部閣僚の先行指名について「念頭にない。一気に決める」と表明。政権移行チームは作らず、首相指名後にまとめて組閣する考えを示した。

 また、小沢氏の処遇について鳩山氏は30日夜、NHKの番組で「来年の参院選も見据えながら考える。(続投について)そういった考え方もある」と述べた。小沢氏が衆院選に続き過半数獲得を目指して参院選を指揮すれば、同氏の党内での影響力が一段と強まるのは確実だ。岡田氏も同夜、NHKの番組で自ら「幹事長が閣内に入ることはない」と明言、留任となる方向だ。

 鳩山氏は政治主導への組織改革の目玉である国家戦略局創設に先立ち、法的整備を必要としない形で「国家戦略室」を新設し、担当相を置く考えも明らかにした。
Mainichi Daily
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Prime Minister Taro Aso announced his resignation
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2009, 05:58:42 AM »
LDP power vacuum won't be filled anytime soon following Aso resignation announcement

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is looking for a new leader, after Prime Minister Taro Aso announced his resignation following the party's crushing defeat in Sunday's general election. However, with many factional leaders and top party officials left without a seat in the House of Representatives, the party is suffering a dearth of potential candidates.

The LDP leadership is planning to push back the party presidential election until after the special Diet session slated for mid-September, with Aso to be nominated for the Diet's vote on a new prime minister.

"It is physically impossible to hold a party presidential election before the special Diet session," said LDP Secretary General Hiroyuki Hosoda at a press conference at the party headquarters early Monday. "We hope to hold the vote at the earliest possible date, no later than at the end of September. We would also like to hear opinions from our local chapters."

The government is to convene the special Diet session sometime during the week starting Sept. 14.

The LDP will be forced to take its time in picking a next leader, as the campaigning for Sunday's general election betrayed a deepening detachment from the party among its local chapter members, who were repeatedly denied a say in choosing the string of party leaders following the 2005 House of Representatives election.

"Unless we take our time (for the party presidential election), our party will fall apart," said a top LDP official.

Furthermore, there is currently no strong favorite for the party's top position. Even former Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura, who won in his constituency in the latest general election as leading factional leader and has run for party president before, is reluctant about running for the upcoming party leadership election.

"That's not something I should think about at the moment. All of us party politicians are to blame (for the LDP's defeat)," he said at his office in Shunan, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Sunday night.

That the LDP had failed to replace Aso before the Lower House election owes much to the absence of presidential hopefuls among party members, and the crucial setback in Sunday's general election has only added to the shortage of the party's presidential candidates. Some have endorsed Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe, who embarked on a nationwide canvassing tour during the general election campaign, for next party leader -- but the very fact that he is a House of Councillors member testifies the party's scarcity of manpower.

"It wasn't whether Aso was good or not (as prime minister), it was a matter of the LDP itself. Voters' disappointment at the LDP-led politics triggered (the party's defeat), and that's it," said Agricultural Minister Shigeru Ishiba, who ran in the previous LDP party presidential election, as he met the media corps at his supporters' office in Tottori on Sunday night.

How the LDP will address voters' dissatisfaction and distrust in the party that have been accumulated over the years -- which many LDP candidates bitterly felt during their campaign -- is to be tested.
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LDP coalition partner Komeito devastated in election
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2009, 06:04:27 AM »
LDP coalition partner Komeito devastated in election, leader loses seat

Komeito, the junior partner in the coalition government led by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), had all eight candidates in single-seat constituencies lose in Sunday's election, including those of party leader Akihiro Ota and Secretary-General Kazuo Kitagawa.

The losses marked a historic defeat for the party, and a tired-looking Ota appeared before the press in the early hours of Monday morning to state he "keenly felt" his responsibility for the party's electoral drubbing. Komeito's parent organization, the lay-Buddhist group Soka Gakkai, put the blame for the defeat on "the single-constituency system" and an "ineffective organizational strategy."

Ota was expected to announce his resignation as leader at a news conference following a meeting of senior party officials late Monday morning. However, Ota stated only that such a decision will have to be made before a special Diet session in mid-September to choose a new prime minister. He also later declared that he will not leave politics, and intends to run in the same constituency in the next Lower House election.

With the backing of the LDP, Komeito managed to hold on to its 23 assembly seats in Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly elections in July. An election strategy based on the Soka Gakkai pool of support was effective in the municipal elections, in which more than one candidate can be elected in a single district, but proved ineffective in the single-constituency races of the national election.

Komeito entered its alliance with the LDP in 1999 and has been backing the party in the Diet ever since, and Komeito's share of the proportional representation blocks grew as it worked with the LDP in elections. In the 2000 Lower House elections, just after the LDP-Komeito alliance was formed, Komeito captured 7.76 million proportional representation votes. In the following years, the relationship between the two parties grew deeper, including the LDP offering Komeito its supporter registers, and in the 2005 election, Komeito bumped its proportional representation vote tally to 8.98 million.

With Komeito's inclusion in the government, the party had a hand in policy initiatives such as this year's cash handouts, expansion of child-care allowances and regional promotion coupons. However, there were those in the Soka Gakkai who opposed Komeito's support for the Self-Defense Force mission to Iraq and other security issues, believing Komeito had strayed too far from its slogan of "Peace and Welfare," set when the party was founded.

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