The result of the election was more than the public had thought. The DPJ, the opposition, won an overwhelming victory and gained 308 seats compared with 115 seats in the former election, so that it has become the single majority in the Lower House. It resulted in a change of the regime for the first time since the two big parties system (the LDP and the DPJ) started in 1998. The majority, the LDP, decreased its seats from 300 to 119, and the Kômei Party lost 10 seats, moving from 31 to 21.
The DPJ is composed of retired members from the LDP and retired members from the former Social Party (the present SDP). The President of the DPJ, Mr. HATOYAMA Yukio (62 years old), had loudly urged a regime change before the election, affirming the shift from bureaucratic politics to politics by the Japanese people and “fraternité” politics. He is a grandson of the former Prime Minister, Mr. HATOYAMA Ichirô, known as a politician who re-established diplomatic relation with the former USSR after the end of WWII.
It seems that the Japanese people supported the DPJ in the present election, feeling repulsions toward the LDP due to the “disparity society” between the rich and the poor made by the former Prime Minister Koizumi’s regime. The voting rate increased from 67.51% in the last election to about 69% in this one. “The LDP’s taste term has finished”, says a leading member of the LDP as an excuse.
The “Manifesto” of the DPJ promises the Japanese people as follows: support payment to families with children and free high-school education, reflecting the deep problem of a low birth rate in Japan, unification of the pension systems, abolishment of the “medical system for the latter-period-aged-people” relating to the pension-medical systems that are almost bankrupt, a plan to decrease unemployment (the present unemployment rate is about 5.7%, the worst in the past years), toll free-use of the superhighways, reduction of useless budgets by banning the entry of retired bureaucrats into private companies as executives (Amakudari), and the promotion of decentralization.
In the foreign relations area, the Manifesto affirms that the government will continue its policy of Nippon-American Alliance as the fundamental axis and also reinforce the relationships with other Asian countries toward the realization of “East-Asia Community” (which the former Prime Minister Koizumi publicly announced in 2002). In the US, the media demonstrates anxiety about Mr. Hatoyama’s ideas, reflected in an article he authored in the Japanese Journal, “Voice”. But in the journal, he simply criticized the excessive economic globalization given by certain American regimes, and not specifically the current Obama presidency.
The Manifesto also says that Japan does not recognize the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea and he will take leadership for the total abolishment of nuclear weapons in the world. This follows President Obama’s disarmament policy and maybe is influenced by the former members of the Social Party in the DPJ. Japan who continue to contribute to peace building in the world through the activities of peace-keeping operations (PKO) by the Self-Defense Force. However, the problem whether Japan shall continue its activities of oil supply to the alliances on the Indian Sea for the support of anti-terrorist measures is not so clear at the present stage. Concerning countermeasures to the global warming, the DPJ shows its intention to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% by the year of 2020 compared with the year of 1990, but some Japanese people are anxious about it because it creates an annual financial burden of about 360,000 Yen (about 3,600 US dollars) per family.
In the Upper House where the quorum is 242 seats, the DPJ is not a single majority and it creates a coalition with the SDP and the PNP. In the foreign relations area, the SDP is negative towards the Nippon-American Alliance, so there is a gap between the DPJ and the SDP. In the middle of September, the Prime Minister Hatoyama’s cabinet will be established. We, Japanese, shall watch the politics of this new government, hoping that the DPJ will meet our demand to change Japanese politics.