Japan ready to vote in major shift in leadership?
National polls Sunday could oust the long-ruling Liberal Democrats. Voter participation is expected to be high.
Japan without the LDP? The prospect might just be galvanizing enough to get apathetic voters to national polls on Sunday.Skip to next paragraph
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The Liberal Democratic Party is the face of Japan's postwar politics. They're the guys who ran the political show as Japan emerged from occupation to build itself into an export-driven powerhouse. They're also the ones who have become associated with a sense of ennui and clubbiness that made last year's party election of current Prime Minister Taro Aso about as exciting as watching grass grow.
So to send them packing? It could portend a significant shift for a country that many view as having faltered badly after a sparkling run in the '80s as an economic superpower.
A poll by broadcaster NHK indicates that 90 percent of voters planned to go to the polls – a sharp rise from the 68 percent who voted in lower house elections four years ago, reports The New York Times. And Agence France-Presse notes that young people may raise their voices in a way not seen lately in a country that focuses more on the older set (with good reason – Japan is one of the most rapidly aging societies in the world).
Taking the helm, most likely, would be the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). Surveys indicate the party could be poised to capture some 300 seats in Japan's 480-seat lower house of parliament. Their platform, as the Monitor earlier reported, tips populist, with promises to boost consumer spending, give consumers more money by offering tax credits to families with children, make gas cheaper; and eliminate highway tolls.
A DPJ win would catapult Yukio Hatoyama, an engineer who received his training at Stanford University, to power. He's not saying anything that would get the United States too worried. In an opinion piece in the Monitor (click here), he vowed that "the Japan-US security pact will continue to be the cornerstone of Japanese diplomatic policy." But he also criticized freewheeling globalization, noting that "Our responsibility as politicians is to refocus our attention on those non-economic values that have been thrown aside by the march of globalism."