Japan's Ruling Coalition Retains Upper House Majority
Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE
"Japan's Ruling Coalition Retains Upper House Majority"
The article is probably one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date English report on the Upper House election held on Sunday - and without too much of implied political stance of its own.
The result of the Upper House election is actually not really so simple to comprehend. It is not like a result of a baseball game, or a US Presidential election, where who won would be clear without room for ambiguity - although the process could be muddled at times. One reason is that this is not the election to choose the leader of the country, directly or indirectly, as the Upper House is in a subordinate position to the Lower House in nominating the Prime Minister.
The headlines of the major Japanese newspapers were, in fact, split. The more critical of the Papers, such as Asahi and Mainichi, carried the headline effectively saying, "LDP Defeated, DPJ Surges", while those somewhat more sympathetic to the current regime, namely Yomiuri and Sankei said "DPJ makes big gains, LDP sluggish."
Looking at the numbers, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won 49 this time against 51 previous seats, and the New Komeito, forming the coalition with the LDP, won 11 where it had 10 seats before. A loss of 1 seat may not be considered a defeat on the surface. But the major opposition the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won 50 seats, up from 36 - a leap indeed. And it is interesting to see who gave all those seats to the DPJ. It was the Communist party which acquired 4 seats, down from 15, and some from other one-man parties and independents who lost the seats.
This swapping of seats have invited some pro-LDP comments such as that the supporters and opposers of the current government has not changed, it was only among the opposers who switched their support from the Communist Party to the DPJ. The opposers argue that even if it was the Communist Party losing people's support, the LDP should have won a share of the seats released by the Communist and others, and the fact it all went to the DPJ indicates there was no active support for the LDP from the outset.
Indeed, because of the confusion within the DPJ upon the resignation of its leader Mr Kan and the eventual success by the current leader Mr Okada only a couple of months ago, and due partly for the turmoil for the inability of DPJ to formulate a consolidated policy agenda facing this election, most of the critics - including just about every media - had anticipated that the LDP would win by a large margin, until only a week before the election date when the results of various polls came out.
Thus the expression of "loss" was not strictly in terms of numbers, but the non-existence of a critical thrust the LDP was supposed to acquire, anticipated to a certain extent even among the opposers. It was revealed that the support by the people for the current regime is lukewarm at best, or that of wait and see.
As the LDP has no candidate to take over Mr Koizumi within the party as its president, the members' only feasible option, at least for the time being, is to enhance their support for Mr Koizumi, but perhaps shifting from the area of security and related affairs to structural reform, where the process is only at its midway and definitely needs bold steps ahead.
On the other hand, the DPJ has come ever closer to obtaining the position of 'the' opposition in a two-party system, with real possibility to seek their own regime. But people are still wary as to the fragility of the DPJ's party structure, and due partly to this mixed policy messages coming out of it from time to time.