On August 30th, Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won a historical and land-slide victory over Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the political party that held political leadership since 1955 building so-called ‘Regime 1955’ and ‘Iron-Triangle’ structure of Japan Incorporated (a brief break by Prime Minister Hosokawa lasted less than one year, but the Regime ’55 did not change a bit).
The result has far-reaching implications on the future of Japan. The results may not indicate the public at large tried to punish LDP for economic downturn, rising unemployment, and widening of income disparity or ‘Kakusa’, a view popular by the media here and there. Rather the results may indicate a rising awareness of the public’s thirst for ‘Change’ and realization that JDP cannot Change of resistance from heavily tied ‘establishments’ and ‘stakeholders’ of the ‘Regime ’55, eg, centralized powerhouse of bureaucrats-run ministries silos, big corporate establishment, farmers, civil construction and other interest groups.
This view which I portrait above seems consistent with the views of other opinion leaders outside of Japan who have watched and closely worked with and in Japan. An Op-Ed appeared in September 7th of New York Times by a well known author of Japan, Ryu Murakami, ‘Japan Comes of Age’ also portays the public perception of reality of Japan.
The Economist, September 5th and other issues, for example, provide several pages of coverage such as ‘The vote that changed Japan’ , ‘Lost in transition’, ‘New bosses’ and ‘Banzai; A landslide victory for the DPJ Japan’ . Other media and presses abroad share similar commentaries.
In Huffingtonpost, a liberal on-line news and blog, which President Obama is one of frequent contributors, Dr Sunil Chacko (Ref.1), another frequent contributor and a friend of mine, also wrote on the DPJ victory with a title ‘Japan’s New Era’.
A writer, journalist, and a well know observer of Japan, Bill Emmott sent me an email in February saying ‘I also wrote a quick column for The Guardian the same evening I bumped into you for their online version with a title ‘A silver lining for Japan; The economic suffering here has been harsh and long, but at last political change is coming’.
When you read his column, it is of particular interest to note its concluding sentence (underlined) of the last paragraph, precisely the pointing to our democracy as I have been often pointing out in my speaking engagements and writings （Ref.1, 2, 3) (the sites are in Japanese except Ref.2). The paragraph reads as:
‘It is a country, in other words, that is in desperate need of a change of government, and the election of a party dedicated to repairing broken social services as well as shaking up the economy. No doubt as and when the DPJ wins power, it will bring disappointments and its own occasionally shambolic ministers. No matter. The important thing in a democracy is to punish those who have failed and to bring in a new crowd capable of making new mistakes. Japan has waited far too long for that.’
Be aware, Japan remains still second largest economy of the world, thus Japan must and is expected to carry its own responsibilities in the world affairs even in ‘The Post-American World’. Indeed, Japan has lots to offer to the global challenges, but not much signs of proactive action and engagements matched to its own economic power, at least to me.