Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Japan vote decision a bit of a tough one
Pollsters are predicting that the opposition Democrats will win by a landslide, ousting the conservative party that has ruled for nearly all of the past half-century.
Surveys show, though, that at least one in five voters is undecided, while another chunk might change their minds at the last minute.
“I’m really perplexed,” the dental assistant told me as I finished a less-harrowing-than-feared session in the chair this week.
“I really used to like Kakuei Tanaka when I was a kid,” she said, referring to the former Japanese leader credited by many with perfecting the system that kept the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in power with pork-barrel spending, close ties to business and bureaucrats and well-oiled local political machines.
“The LDP used to have an image as being strong,” she said. “Now, I don’t know.”
The decision of voters like her could either take the edge off an expected Democratic Party win or inflate it further, but analysts say the trend looks unlikely to change.
That’s perhaps less because voters are thrilled with the idea of a Democratic Party government than because they’re fed up with the LDP after having backed it big time in the last election in 2005.
Then, charismatic leader Junichiro Koizumi’s pledges of reform sparked a groundswell of enthusiasm that swept the LDP to a massive victory.
Koizumi stepped down the following year, and three prime minister’s later, many who wonder what became of the promised ”change” figure it’s time to give the decade-old Democratic Party a chance.
Some of that backing for the opposition falls well short of exuberance.
As Tomoharu Tada, a former miner who now drives a taxi in Fukuoka, southern Japan, put it: “It’s not that the Democrats are so good, but it’s time for a change.”
Photo credit: REUTERS/Toru Hanai