Monday, February 23, 2009

Aso's Ruling Coalition Has Lost Ability to Rule

It's more and more likely that the reign of the Liberal Democratic Party (and the current LDP-New Komeito coalition) will come to an end in the coming general election, and a new administration led by Ichiro Ozawa's Democratic Party of Japan will be born. The day is drawing near when a political avalanche comes crashing down on Japan.

For most of the 64 years since the war, political power has been held by the LDP and the two parties from which the LDP was formed: the Liberal and Democratic parties. This era is coming to an end. The next administration will be led by Ozawa. While there are those in Japan that put the LDP and Ozawa's DPJ in the same boat, politically speaking, the defeat of the LDP and the ascendancy of the acknowledged reformer Ozawa would be a huge event.

The other day, I was invited to take part in the training session of a certain prefecture's commerce and industry society. An executive of the society, whom I'll call Mr. A, is an LDP member but he's also someone who can coolly assess the political climate in his prefecture. Looking at the current political stances around the prefecture, he predicts that "the LDP will be annihilated." In the last general election in September 2005, the prefecture elected three LDP representatives and 1 DPJ member. In the next election, he predicts the LDP will end up with nothing.

It was such a bold prediction that I decided to ask some other friends who live in that prefecture's major city. I asked three of them, and each one replied that they expected the LDP to lose badly in the next vote. I asked each of them on what grounds they predict this LDP collapse, and each replied that the ruling party has lost its base of support. The LDP only listens to New Komeito and Soka Gakkai, came the reply. The party has distanced itself from its traditional hubs of support.

In another prefecture I visited, the news is similar. An executive from a conservative organization there told me, "The LDP won't be able to get anybody elected. Last election, the prefecture was split two and two, but next time the DPJ will probably take all four seats." He offered the same reason I heard earlier: The LDP has lost its base. Agricultural groups, the construction sector and people affiliated with the post office used to supply grass-roots support to the LDP, but now they are distancing themselves from the party.

A majority of the Japanese have begun to realize that the reason the country's provinces are deteriorating is that Japan has adopted policies to Americanize itself. This is primarily the result of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Structural Revolution. But the three cabinets following Koizumi (those of Shinzo Abe, Yasuo Fukuda and Taro Aso) have been unable to clearly evaluate these reforms. Koizumi's agenda needs to be repudiated for Japan to rebuild itself, and yet a repudiation of these reforms could lead to a split in the LDP. If the LDP is divided, it has no chance of winning. This is why the party is keeping everything so vague. But this is also the reason former supporters are distancing themselves from the LDP.

The opposition DPJ is overflowing with confidence because members sense that a change in political power is near. The provinces across this nation are experiencing a sweeping grass-roots change.