Change of the Guard

Japan has a new ruling party.

In a landmark election the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) gained a majority in both houses of the Diet for the first time in its history. Yet the significance of this election has much less to do with the DPJ and much more to do those whom they knocked out of power – the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The LDP has been the ruling party in Japan for more than 50 years. Since the age of Shigeru Yoshida and Ichiro Hatoyoma it has held the commanding heights, making Japan a de facto one-party state.

The election of the DPJ overthrew the LDP’s regime. Yet the funniest thing about this revolution in Japanese politics is that I do not imagine it will be much of a revolution at all. The DPJ steadily backed away from controversial and extremist positions as they approached election day. The corruption and inertia of the LDP will be swept away, yes. But there are very few actual policies slated for major reform. Outsiders looking in should not expect Japan under the DPJ to look a wit different than Japan under the LDP.

Of course only time will tell if this prediction holds true. Until then, here are a few peices concerning the changing of Nippon’s guard.

Index to the English version of DPJ party planks.

Japan’s Political World Turned Upside Down
Tobias Harris. Observing Japan. 30 August 2009.

The Party’s Over.
“Curzon.” Coming Anarchy. 29 August 2009.

Don’t Fear Japan’s Changing of the Guard.
Dov Zakhiem. Shadow Government. 28 August 2009.

Braced for Change.
The Economist. 28 August 2009.

Photo: Yukio Hatoyama, the Democratic Party leader, placed a flower next to the name of a winning candidate. Credit: Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times

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