Culture · Culture Shock · Information · Living in Japan

Out With the Old & In With the New

“We have felt this great need to change things to make life better for the public,” he said. “We have been vowing to change the government in this election. It feels very likely that that is the situation that is unraveling.”-Yukio Hatoyama

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I have been in Japan for over a year now (two years total if you want to count my study abroad experience in the mix), and this is the third time that Japan’s Prime Minister has changed since I have been in Japan. Not only that, but the election that took place yesterday was one that caused the balance of power in the Japanese government to flip. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has dominated Japanese politics for more than 50 years now. The victory breaks a political deadlock that has crippled parliament during Japan’s worst recession since World War II. Essentially, if there was anyone representing the LDP, that person was elected with little opposition. The now former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has never been liked by the public – and to be honest, no one really liked any Prime Minister after Koizumi. I mean, Aso’s tendency for malapropisms has led comparisons to George W. Bush, and the use of his name, “Taro” as a schoolyard taunt for unintelligent children. He says some outrageous things and was a terrible public speaker. For example, at a lecture in Nagasaki Prefecture, Aso referred to a Japanese peace initiative on the Middle East, stating, “The Japanese were trusted because they had never been involved in exploitation there, or been involved in fights or fired machine guns. Japan is doing what the Americans can’t do. It would probably be no good to have blue eyes and blond hair. Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces.” What? Then, there was also the attempt to cover up his family’s mining company using POW during WWII

Iam not pretending to be an expert on this as politics is not really something I pay that much attention to, but the Japanese media has just been ripping this poor man to shreds and blaming him for all of Japan’s problems which is very unfair. It would be like us blaming Obama for starting the war in Iraq. The Japanese people seem hopeful with this new change though. A high school history teacher was quoted in the paper saying, “I hope things will change.America just went through its own change electing Barack Obama. Now that idea has come to Japan.” Another said, “Voters see the LDP candidates as too old, too bureaucratic. People want to punish the LDP by voting for the other party. It seems they don’t really know what they want, other than change.”Jun seems to agree with this statement and thinks this new dude, Yukio Hatoyama, is going to be less effective and make matters in Japan worse.

Yukio Hatoyama, a wealthy 62-year-old grandson of a former prime minister, who 13 years ago abandoned the LDP to help found the opposition movement. His party won 308 seats in parliament’s 480-member lower house and already has plans to reform the government and wants to re-examine Japan’s policies toward the United States – although few believe he will actually do this.n a speech carried nationwide, Hatoyama said he would form a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party and People’s New Party, acknowledging that he rode a sentiment of public anger against Liberal Democrats. With his election Hatoyama promises to cut wasteful government spending, rein in the powerful bureaucracy and put more money in consumers’ pockets by postponing tax hikes that the ruling party has said are in the works. Hatoyama also wants Japan to be closer to Asia and more independent from the U.S., though he stressed that their alliance would remain “the cornerstone” of Japanese diplomacy.

“People feel better and lighter because the LDP is gone, but there is not the same jubilation felt in America after Obama’s election,” said Masaru Tamamoto, a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute. “Obama told America where he was going. But the Democratic Party really hasn’t told us where it and we are going.”

I am unsure how to feel about this whole situation. As matters are, being a foreigner living and working in Japan is not the easiest and most supportive system, so I hope that Hatoyama doesn’t make things more difficult for us with his potential tampering with Japan’s relationship with the United States. I need to find some unbiased news to read before I pass any judgments.

Dad, your better at understanding politics than me. Any thoughts?

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One thought on “Out With the Old & In With the New

  1. Japanese Politics certainly is not my area of expertise.

    I belive the people voted for change. I would imagine that closer to Asia and a careful policy toward the United States is probably in Japan’s better interest. Closer to Asia may have difficulties due to the Japanese behavior during World War II – Very bad stuff that. Alienation from the U.S. would not be a good thing though. The U.S. supports defense of Japan against places like North Korea for example.

    As for combining with the socialists, perhaps a political expediency but I am not in favor of a socialist philosopy over a free enterprise approach. Individuals should be responsible for their own being and not relay on the govenment to provide for them. Individuals have a right to see opportunity but an obligation to provide for themselves within that context.

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