Sunday, 30 August 2009


The exit polls were a fair bit off and my initial enthusiasm wasn't warranted.

The DPJ won 308 seats to the LDP's 119.
The Communists and the Social Democrats trod water at 9 and 7 seats respectively, the same as the last election.

In the absence of gains by these parties, it is difficult to read this election and a step towards the Left. More than the DPJ winning, the LDP lost. Policy was largely irrelevent in the face of a generic desire for 'change'.

What this election means practically is yet to be seen. Japanese politics has always been very factional, with competitions between factions within a party often being more influential than competition between parties. The DPJ has many diverse factions, ranging from those advocating social democray on the left, to those led by dissatisfied ex-menbers of the LDP on the right.

Any question of "where now for Japanese politics?" can only be answered by looking at the factional balance within the DPJ.

Of their known policies, their most significant positive ones include making public high school free for all students (Japan is currently the only developed nation where state high schools have tuition fees) and their offer of child-raising benefits could be the first step towards a system that encourages child-birth (and hopefuly not to the exclusion of womens' career development) and set about undoing Japan's aging society.

Their most worrying policy is to reduce government spending by cutting down the number of seats in parliament. The seats to go would almost certainly be those awarded by PR and this would do real and lasting harm to the health and diversity of Japan's democracy.

I feel sorry for the girls and guys at the JCP, they are a dedicated and pasionate lot who put time and energy into the cause of social good. Their story will not be told by the mainstream media, but it is an example others could learn from.

It dawns on me that the only election I've ever actively followed and taken an interest in that has gone as I hoped, was the American Presidential Election. The first election I voted in was the London Mayoral. We know how that turned out. Then there was the European Parliament. Which kind of made me loose hope for humanity. While this is nowhere near as bad as those two (and no, I'm not comparing Borris Johnson to the British National Party. He's a harmless toffish annoyance. Like an angry hampster in a top hat.) It's a bit of a disapointment that "my team" didn't do better. C'est la vie~

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