Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Ruling party takes off gloves, irking opposition

July 25, 2009

Japan’s conservative ruling party,  torn  by internal feuds and facing a possible loss in an Aug. 30 poll, is making attacks on the opposition Democratic Party of a sort rare in a country where many have had an allergy to Western-style negative campaigns.

The strategy — portraying the novice Democrats as weak on security and profligate on spending –  prompted a harsh reply from the opposition,  who polls show have their best-ever chance of defeating unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the election,  ending its more than half a century of nearly unbroken rule.

“It is natural for there to be healthy criticism and debate about policies, but the stance of the LDP, which is stressing partial, biased information and is not engaging in serious debate, is extremely regrettable and sad,” opposition Democratic Party Secretary-General Katsuya Okada told a news conference.JAPAN-ELECTION/

On Wednesday, the LDP ran a full-page newspaper ad with a big, bold-faced headline declaring: “The Future of Japan in ins Danger.” The party is also running an animated cartoon on its website portraying Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama as a smooth-taking suitor wooing a woman with fuzzy promises. 

The LDP has also charged the Democrats with being under the thumb of the leftist teachers’ union, a group anathema to conservatives.

“It’s an old political trick, although new in Japan,” Sophia University professor Koichi Nakano told me.

“The question is whether it will come out as desperate and unseemly, or convince some undecided voters. It’s not clear because we’ve never seen anything like this before.”

Photo credit: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

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