21 July 2009

Is Change Coming to Japan?

It will be good news for Japan indeed if the opposition Democratic Party in Japan can win their August 30 elections.

The LDP has been in power since 1955!

Can you imagine what kind of corporatocracy the US would have if the Republicans had won every election since Eisenhower? This is what exists today in Japan.

There is an embedded bureaucracy in the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry that is formidable, and that will resist policy change. So there is room for pessimism.

And the election is far from won. Do they use voting machines in Japan?

Aso Dissolves Japan’s Parliament, Admits Failings

By Sachiko Sakamaki and Takashi Hirokawa

July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Taro Aso dissolved Japan’s parliament, clearing the way for an Aug. 30 election that polls indicate will hand power to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan for the first time.

Lower-House Speaker Yohei Kono announced the dissolution in parliament today to a chorus of cheers. Aso’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, in power for all but 10 months since 1955, will defend a two-thirds majority in the election.

“The era of one-party dominance is over,” said Gerald Curtis, professor of Japanese politics at Columbia University in New York. “This is the first election since the LDP was formed when just about everybody believes that the chance for a change of the party in power is very real.

The DPJ plans to encourage consumer spending by providing as much as 5.3 trillion yen ($56 billion) in child support, eliminating road tolls and lowering gasoline taxes. The party also aims to shift tax money from public works spending to strengthen social security, DPJ legislator Tetsuro Fukuyama said in a July 14 interview.

They are going to increase the purchasing power of the people directly and they are going to fund this by cutting out wasteful spending,” said Jesper Koll, Tokyo-based chief executive officer of hedge fund adviser TRJ Tantallon Research Japan. “That’s a good, sensible economic policy to have.”

Poll Lead

Forty-two percent of respondents in an Asahi newspaper poll published yesterday said they would vote for the DPJ, compared with 19 percent for the LDP. The opposition, which has controlled the less-powerful upper house since 2007, had a public approval rating of 31 percent, compared with 20 percent for the LDP, according to the poll.

Aso, who came to office last September, has resisted calls from within his own party to resign before the election. His administration has been plagued by cabinet scandals and a deepening economic recession.

“I’m sorry my unnecessary remarks damaged credibility in politics,” said Aso in today’s televised press briefing. Since taking power, he has said doctors lack common sense and mothers need discipline more than their children, angering both groups. “I also apologize the LDP’s lack of unity” created public mistrust.

Aso, 68, pledged to revive the world’s second largest economy and improve the financial security of voters with free pre-schools and higher wages for part-time workers....