Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Little heat in election debate


JAPAN-ELECTION/It might have been a historic moment, but Japan’s first-ever election face-off between the leaders of its two biggest political parties left many cold.

There were no knock-out punches, little soaring rhetoric and the 90 minute debate between Prime Minister Taro Aso (pictured left) and opposition Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama (right) ended awkwardly when Hatoyama approached his rival for a final farewell, only to see Aso turn his back and leave the stage.

“He’s got too much on his mind,” said political commentator Hirotaka Futatsuki, suggesting Aso may not have meant to be rude.

Opinion polls suggest Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is headed for defeat in the Aug. 30 election, ending a half-century of almost unbroken rule by the conservative party.

PM ponders “graceful defeat”


Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, his long-ruling party at risk of losing power in this month’s election,  appears to be pondering the problem of how to lose gracefully.

JAPAN-ELECTION/Speaking on the campaign trail near Tokyo this week, Aso quoted a piece of advice given to his grandfather,  Shigeru Yoshida,  by Japan’s last wartime prime minister.

Scrum at ruling party HQ says it all?


“Why can’t the LDP do this better?”

That’s what many reporters were saying when Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party announced its campaign platform on Friday.

They weren’t talking about the party’s campaign pledges for the Aug. 30 election,  which the LDP could well lose to the rival Democratic Party, ending more than half a century of almost unbroken reign by the LDP.

Youth appeal a bonus for Japan Democrats?


In the rural prefecture of Fukushima, north of Tokyo, you can’t help but notice it: The opposition Democrats are quite simply younger than their ruling Liberal Democratic Party counterparts.

The youngest member of the Fukushima prefectural assembly, Tomo Honda, is a 34-year-old Democrat. On a visit to the local LDP headquarters, though, I failed to spot anyone whose hair was not grey.

Ruling party takes off gloves, irking opposition


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.

Japan’s long, hot political summer


A campaign that began with apologies and tears by the prime minister may end the same way if, as surveys suggest, Japan’s conservative ruling party suffers a historic defeat in 40 days.

Prime Minister Taro Aso dissolved parliament’s powerful lower house Tuesday for an Aug. 30 election that could well see his Liberal Democratic Party ousted for only the second time since its founding more than half a century ago.  

Name That Dissolution – A game everyone can play


Finally, we have a date for Japan’s general election. After months of speculation, unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso said on Monday he plans to call a national election on Aug. 30 after dissolving parliament next week.

All we need now – in Japan, at least - is a cool name for the dissolution.

Japan’s election allergy on the Internet


Tech-savvy Japan is home to many high-tech companies and more than 70 percent of its people use the Internet. But politics on the Web falls far behind.

Both politicians and voters can be found online. Lawmakers have their own blogs and channels on sites such as niconico and youtube, and political parties such as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and main opposition Democratic Party of Japan have websites.  A couple of politicians are even tweeting on ”Twitter“.

Unpopular PM to voters: “No-one’s perfect”


For the crowd waiting for Prime Minister Taro Aso to show up for a campaign speech in Ome on the western edge of Tokyo, it was a bit like watching the warm-up acts before the main attraction.

Aso picked ruling party candidate Akinobu Nomura’s home district of Ome  to kick off a campaign for the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, the results of which are likely to affect the unpopular 68-year-old premier’s chances of keeping his own job ahead of a nationwide poll expected next month.

Comedian for Japan PM?


It may seem like a bad joke, but some say Japan’s long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party just might be desperate enough to take up an offer from a  ex-comedian to take over as leader.

JAPANUnpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso’s LDP party is sagging in the polls with an election just months away. The party’s fear of defeat after more than half a century of almost unbroken rule is  prompting lawmakers to plot miraculous rescue scenarios, many beginning with dumping the PM.