Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tide of change in Japan

For all but 11 months of the last fifty-three years, one party has totally dominated the political system in the Empire of Japan: The Liberal Democratic Party, which was anything but liberal or democratic. In its early years, it set up the conditions that allowed Japan to become the economic miracle it became after the devastation of World War II. But like many parties that keep getting re-elected time after time, it became stagnant and it went through Prime Ministers who had to resign amidst scandal after scandal.
Two years ago, the LDP lost its control of the Senate to the DPJ, the Democratic Party of Japan. If exit polls are to be believed, the DPJ is set to win an outright majority in the lower house -- and the new Prime Minister will be Yukio Hatoyama, heir to the Bridgestone ™ Tire fortune. Turnout was huge despite monsoonal rains pounding the island country today.

Hatoyama's main pledge was to end the massive system of corporate subsidies and to instead focus on social welfare issues. He also wants to review Japan's relationship with the States and make it a "more balanced" one.

As usual, you're going to see the televangelists saying this is proof that the US can't rely on its allies anymore, that Japan will cozy up to China, ths is the end of the world, yadda yadda yadda.
But come on -- many of America's allies regularly elect socialist governments. Does that necessarily mean a straining of ties? It's usually American actions that are the causes of strain, whether it is improper agricultural supports, trying to slam down a foreign policy that actually backfires against both the allies and the States itself, or trying to persuade the world that it is the only true beacon of freedom and that any form of government other than full separation of powers is Satanic -- even though we know that Congress has delegated so much of its powers to the executive since the Great Depression that it doesn't even exist in the US anymore.
The Japaense just want to try something new. They're looking out after their own best interests just as most countries do for themselves. I would rather think that this is the start of the process of creating a regional free trade area in the Asia Pacific region that will finally pose a challenge to NAFTA and the EU. I do think it would be in Japan's interests, however, to start only with those countries that are actually democracies and / or allow free expression -- including itself, India, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and the "free" Chinese cities of Hong Kong and Macau. Put in Mainland China which still has a totalitarian government and media and a totally un-independent court system and Japan really will be screwing itself.

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Two Yen said...

This is not as big a change as may might think. Yukio Hatoyama, the new Prime Minister, is the grandson of one of the founders of the LDP and former LDP Prime Minister Ichiro Hatoyama. The real power behind the scenes (shadow shogun) is Ichiro Ozawa, a former ally of Kakuei Tanaka and one of the most powerful LDP Prime Ministers ever. Makiko TAnaka, Tanak's daughter is a newly elected DPJ MP and likely to be a Cabinet Minister. So much for the revolution!

derek demos said...

Wow, I can't believe it, is it possible???

Rev.Paperboy said...

Japan is about as likely to cozy up to China as Iran is likely to cozy up to Israel.

BlastFurnace said...

On that I totally agree, Paperboy. There's this one group that claims they keep getting it right about "bible prophecy" but according to one website (can't recall which) they've gotten it wrong over 200 times -- you just have to be wrong ONCE to be a false prophet.

Mostly about Europe (which is actually now more democratic than even we are in North America), but also about Japan and China.