Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search


Japan dissolves Parliament, leaving government divided

Elections are set for Dec. 16. If Prime Minister Noda's center-left party loses, the economically sputtering country will get its seventh prime minister in more than six years.

(Page 2 of 2)



Japan's leaders urgently need to devise strategies for coping with a soaring national debt, now more than double the national GDP, and a rapidly aging population. Japan must also decide whether it will follow through with plans to phase out nuclear power by 2040 — a move that many in the LDP oppose.

Skip to next paragraph

Perhaps most pressing is Japan's festering territorial dispute with China, which has hammered Japanese exports to its biggest trading partner.

A staunch nationalist, Abe has railed against China in the dispute over a cluster of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan.

Japan is going through a messy political transition, with a merry-go-round of prime ministers and the emergence of various parties to challenge the long-dominant LDP.

The DPJ ousted the LDP in a 2009 landslide, raising hopes for change. But the DPJ's failure to keep campaign promises and the government's handling of the nuclear crisis triggered by a March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami left many disillusioned. Noda's centerpiece achievement during nearly 15 months in office was a highly unpopular bill doubling the 5 percent national sales tax by 2015.

Polls show public support for the DPJ in the low teens, while 25 to 30 percent of voters back the LDP. Several other parties have lower levels of support, and nearly half the electorate is undecided.

"There are so many lying politicians," said Tokyo resident Michiyo Komaki. "I just wish for a leader who would do his job properly."

Ishihara recently resigned as Tokyo governor to create the Sunrise Party. As governor, he helped instigate the territorial crisis with China by declaring that Tokyo would buy and develop the disputed islands controlled by Japan but long claimed by Beijing. The central government bought the islands itself, intending to thwart Ishihara's more extreme plans, but China was still enraged.

Ishihara has been courting Toru Hashimoto, the young, outspoken mayor of Osaka, Japan's second-biggest city, in hopes of tapping voter dismay. Both have formed their own national political parties, but may not have enough time to get organized for the election.

The two men are reportedly in discussions to merge their parties and form a so-called "third force" to counter the LDP and DPJ, but apparently are struggling to reconcile conflicting policy views, including on nuclear power.

"The era of one-party dominance is clearly over and behind us," said Nakano, the professor. "We know what we are transiting from, but we don't know where we are going."

___

Associated Press writers Elaine Kurtenbach and Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer

 

Editors' picks

Doing Good

 

What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Endeavor Global, cofounded by Linda Rottenberg (here at the nonprofit’s headquarters in New York), helps entrepreneurs in emerging markets.

Linda Rottenberg helps people pursue dreams – and create thousands of jobs

She's chief executive of Endeavor Global, a nonprofit group that gives a leg up to budding entrepreneurs.

 
 
Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!