Japanese PM clings to power
LINDA SIEG IN TOKYO
JAPAN’S prime minister, Shinzo Abe, was clinging to political power last night after his party suffered what he described as an “utter defeat” in national elections.
The 52-year-old conservative said he took responsibility for the result, which will see his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lose control of Japan’s upper house of parliament according to exit polls, but added that he intended to stay in his post.
Early projections indicated his party would fall far short of the 64 seats it needs to maintain a majority in the upper chamber.
The main opposition, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was projected to win 59 of the 121 seats up for grabs in the upper house.
“The responsibility for this utter defeat rests with me,” said Mr Abe, looking weary and drawn after his first big electoral test since taking office ten months ago.
“We tried our best and felt we made some progress, so the results are disappointing.”
He acknowledged that voters “had shown their anger” and the LDP would be hard-pressed to regain public trust following a series of scandals and the loss of millions of pension records.
However, Mr Abe added: “I am determined to carry out my promises . We need to restore the people’s trust in the country and the government.
“The nation-building has just started. I must push ahead with reforms.”
The projected defeat does not immediately threaten Mr Abe’s hold on power because the LDP holds a comfortable majority in parliament’s lower chamber, which elects the prime minister and can override votes in the upper house.
However with the DPJ on track to become the biggest party in the chamber, laws will be hard to enact, threatening deadlock. But Mr Abe ruled out a snap general election.
“I am not considering dissolving the lower house,” he said.
“We need to discuss issues closely with the Democratic Party in the upper house and listen to them when necessary.”
Critics say Mr Abe is out of touch with voters having pledged to boost Japan’s security profile, rewrite its pacifist constitution and nurture patriotism in schools.
Democratic Party leader Ichiro Ozawa – a pugnacious veteran who left the LDP 14 years ago – has pledged to cut the gap between rich and poor and ensure those less well off are not neglected.
It was a remarkable turnaround for his party, which was crushed by the charismatic former LDP prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, in a lower- house election two years ago.
“This shows the high expectations that people have for us,” Democratic Party executive Yukio Hatoyama said.
“They really didn’t trust the Abe cabinet and they want us to get rid of this stalemate.”
Analysts said Mr Abe would still face pressure to resign but added the party was short of viable successors.
“The people clearly gave Abe a thumbs-down. His credibility was completely rejected,” said Hokkaido University professor Jiro Yamaguchi.
“The real crisis for the LDP is that there is nobody who would call for Abe’s resignation and say, ‘I’ll do it’.”
IF IT’S NOT ONE THING…
SHINZO Abe’s troubles began last December when the tax commission chairman resigned amid reports he was sharing a government-subsidised flat with his mistress.
The next month, the health minister sparked fury by calling women “birth-giving machines”.
In May, the scandal-hit farm minister hanged himself, and a mix-up was revealed over data on 50 million pension premium payments, meaning some pensioners could be short-changed.
On 3 July, the defence minister quit after saying the 1945 atomic bombing of two Japanese cities by the US “couldn’t be helped”.
This article: http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1183442007
Last updated: 29-Jul-07 00:39 BST
So good to hear the Liberal Democratic Party lost majority rule of their House of Councilors today in response largely to the loss of all pension records during his administration. The loss of countless billions of retirement funds prompted many traditional LDP voters, the elderly, to vote for the opposition Democratic Party of Japan as punishment for their mismanagement. There were other domestic issues involved in this loss such as Abe’s need to promote nationalism in Japan while the average Japanese simply wants domestic reforms that would restore the quality of life that was largely lost during the “Lost Decade”.
Although Japan is still the world’s second largest economy with Germany a distant third, the country is still in dire need of reform in the areas relating to the economy. It seems the DPJ’s platform on reducing the emerging inequality gap coupled with general disgust over Abe’s policies has finally given it a small chance to undermine the predominant rule of the LDP and possibly change Japan for the better.
Let’s all hope these results will actually force Abe to form a governing coalition with the DPJ that would force him to focus on real domestic reform and bring about real, long-overdue changes in Japanese politics. Besides, Abe is also an asshole with his attempts to turn Japan into a better American lapdog and with his baseless denials.
Abe Shinzo simply reaped what he sowed.