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Just don't call us Republicans

When is a liberal not a liberal? Answer: when he or she - or it, in this case - is deeply conservative. Confused? Well, so have been political observers all over the world about the name of the dominant party in Japan, the Liberal Demo-crats. The LDP, the party of big business, has ruled the Land of the Rising Sun single-handedly for most of the past half century. So it's perhaps understandable that some of the more forward-looking members say they think the name now sounds old-fashioned and that the time has come for change, if only for image purposes. Besides, Japan also has a Democratic Party, which is a serious rival, a Social Democratic Party, a Liberal Party, and even a Liberal League. Well, as it happens, an influential LDP member of parliament who is in charge of reform efforts , Seiichi Ota, has come up with a proposed solution. He wants an official new name: the Party of Freedom Democracy. At this point, there is no word on when debate will begin on changing the name, let alone whether Ota's proposal has any realistic hope of success. There's one other dynamic in the equation, too. The change, even if adopted, would apply only in English. In Japanese, the existing name, Jiyu Minshuto, would remain untouched.

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