Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Conditions for a General Election Keep Changing

As I travel around this country, I sense that the feelings and concerns of the populace are changing. It's a gradual change at the moment, but before long it could turn quickly and sharply. In the midst of this serious economic climate, the Japanese populace is changing its consciousness.

The Liberal Democratic Party says it will dissolve the lower house and call for general elections on the cue of Prime Minister Taro Aso, but the era when the premier held the power has come to a close. When the Aso cabinet does dissolve the lower house and call for general elections, it will be asking Japanese voters to believe in the cabinet, to place trust in it. The Aso cabinet has an approval rating of less than 20%; disapproval rates are above 70%. In a general election, it's clear that the voters will not trust Aso. For the ruling coalition of the LDP and New Komeito to still bank on Aso as they dissolve the Diet is simply a self-destructive act. No wonder the voters are distancing themselves from the constant fiction of the ruling coalition.

The economy and the standard of living are plummeting too fast for people to cling to old fictions. This is the major reason for the voters' defection from the lackluster policies of the ruling coalition. If nothing changes, the Aso administration will likely be ousted from power in the next general election.

However, the trend toward regime change is not very pronounced. Why? you may ask. The main reason is that the Democratic Party of Japan has failed to capitalize on this moment and win voter support. The biggest problem is that the DPJ has not spelled out clearly what a DPJ-led administration's policies would look like.