Analysis: Japanese elections
Analysts say voters will blame the LDP for the current economic situation.
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2009 22:26 GMT
The centrist Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) says it will shift the focus of government from supporting corporations to helping consumers and workers [AFP]

Japan's general election appears to have produced a historic power-shift in the country.

Taro Aso, the prime minister, has conceded defeat in the country's elections, handing victory to the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) - which, as exit polls suggested, was set for a massive election victory.

Polls indicate the DPJ has won 300 seats in the 480-seat lower house, ending 50 years of almost unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Final results are expected on Monday morning.

The centrist DPJ has said it will shift the focus of government from supporting corporations to helping consumers and workers.

Japan is suffering record unemployment and its economy is struggling to emerge from the recession.

nalysts share their opinions on what a DPJ victory would mean for the country with Al Jazeera.

Alison Airey, political affairs director, Gavin Anderson Japan

It's a huge majority and it gives the DPJ an enormous mandate to do the things that it promised as part of its campaign pledge.

And one of the things that it promised to do was to shift the power from bureaucrats - which have traditionally been very powerful in Japan - to the politicians.

One way it is going to do this is to send 100 politicians to the ministries to look after policies.

It should lead to a steady and stable government in Japan, in the months ahead.

Sean Curtin, research fellow, Japanese Institute of Global Communications

I feel that the incoming government, the opposition, plan to re-jig the US-Japan relationship. They believe that it has been too subservient.

They were passionately against the support that former prime minister [Junichiro] Koizumi gave to President George Bush for his invasion of Iraq.

And they believe that Japan has been too much of a compliant partner. They want to change that relationship and the dynamics between the two. Perhaps even reduce the number of US troops on Japanese soil.

This is a tremendous victory for the opposition. Out of the last 54 years, the Liberal Democratic Party, the LDP, have been in power for 53 years. And several of their prime ministers, particularly prime minister Koizumi, who was in office for five years - which is a long time for a Japanese prime minister - went every year to a very controversial shrine in Tokyo, that deifies war criminals responsible for the deaths of millions of Chinese and South Korean people.

This was very offensive to many people in Asia who felt that Japan hadn't properly acknowledged the suffering it caused during the second world war. And, Yukio Hatoyama and other members of his party have been much more conciliatory towards Japan. Hatoyama has said that he would never visit such a controversial shrine.

In depth

Video: Japan's ruling party 'at risk'
 Video: The age factor in elections
 Changing face of Japanese politics
 Profile: Taro Aso
 Profile: Yukio Hatoyama
 Japan election: Party pledges
 101 East: Japan elections

China has wanted to improve political ties. The relationship between China and Japan greatly improved since Koizumi left office three years ago. But still the problem is that many Chinese people, and South Koreans, don't actually believe that the outgoing Liberal Democratic Party were very sincerely apologetic over the war.

So, I think it will really change the dynamics in the region. Of course, but this election has mainly been fought on domestic issues not on international issues, therefore the picture isn't so clear at the moment.

I think that what this election really shows is that, finally, the ordinary man and woman on the street has won. There's a big disconnect between the outgoing party and ordinary Japanese people basically over the last 20 years because of the various economic changes.

Japanese society has changed: it's not the rigid society it used to be. There's more divorce, more single families. But the governing, or the outgoing party, didn't represent this change; they were very much out of step.

As a result, Japanese people have felt more and more that their politicians don't represent them. So the promises that the government have made to aid families, to decrease the power of the bureaucrats, are promises which have resonated with the people.

As to whether they will have the money, well that's the difficult question. They promised to cut a lot of bureaucratic waste.

There's often the call of "power to the people", but the incoming government have said "power to the politicians" - because they believe that bureaucrats, for too long, have run Japan. And that they are going to cut back a lot on bureaucrats' budgets and there's all sorts of measures designed to take money away from the bureaucrats and give it to ordinary people.

Of course there is the issue that Japan is suffering an economic downturn, so will they be able to deliver all their promises? We will have to wait and see on that one.

Sheila Smith, senior fellow, Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC

Japan is a society that has deep challenges as it moves forward. But the recent economic downturn and crisis has really made these problems more acute.

The DPJ has put forward a much more European perspective on how to manage the global economy as well as its own national economy.

Beyond that, I don't see any real departure in terms of a close US-Japan relationship. But maybe a broadening of the co-operation to include issues such as climate change, energy and other kinds of global issues.

Al Jazeera
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