Monday, August 31, 2009
By Steven L. Taylor

Via the BBC: Japan’s Hatoyama sweeps to power

Japan’s next leader, Yukio Hatoyama, is beginning a transition to power after winning a landmark general election.

Exit polls show his Democratic Party of Japan overwhelmingly defeated the Liberal Democratic Party, which has governed almost unbroken since 1955.


Media forecasts give the DPJ 308 of the 480 seats in the lower house to the LDP’s 119, almost an exact reversal of their previous standing.

Via the Asahi Shimbun: DPJ hands historic loss to LDP, takes over government

In an unprecedented political upheaval that could change the way Japan is run, the Democratic Party of Japan seized 308 seats in Sunday’s Lower House election, bouncing the Liberal Democratic Party from power.

The DPJ’s tally far exceeded the 241 seats needed for a single majority and surpassed the 296 seats the LDP won in its landslide victory in the previous Lower House election in 2005.

The LDP did not just lose the election; it was humiliated.


The LDP went from being THE party of power for almost all of the post-WWII period to a rump party. It held 300 seats in the lower house and now with hold 119–which, as the Shimbun points out, is a loss of 60% of their seats.

The paper also notes high turnout:

Voter turnout in single-seat constituencies was 69.28 percent, up 1.77 points from 2005, according to the internal affairs ministry.

With such change comes others, the Asahi Shimbun also reports: Lower House gets facelift: More women and newcomers

Fifty-four women, most of whom were fielded by the DPJ, claimed seats in the Diet chamber, up from 43 in the previous Lower House election in 2005.

In addition, 158 newcomers, including women, were elected, accounting for about one-third of the 480-seat chamber.

The NYT describe the elections as follows:

Many Japanese saw the vote as the final blow to the island nation’s postwar order, which has been slowly unraveling since the economy collapsed in the early 1990s.

The change in government in Japan may affect US-Japanese relations:

Mr. Hatoyama, who is expected to assemble a government in two to three weeks, has spoken of the end of American-dominated globalization and of the need to reorient Japan toward Asia. His party’s campaign manifesto calls for an “equal partnership” with the United States and a “reconsidering” of the 50,000-strong American military presence here. One change on the horizon may be the renegotiation of a deal with Washington to relocate the United States Marine Corps’ Futenma airfield, on the island of Okinawa. Many island residents want to evict the base altogether.

The Democrats, who opposed the American-led war in Iraq, have also said they may end the Japanese Navy’s refueling of American and allied warships in the Indian Ocean.

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