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News Analysis: Election system could allow Japan's LDP to return to power: professor

English.news.cn   2012-12-11 17:55:07            

OSAKA, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) -- A respected Japanese professor said here that it will take more time to find out whether Japanese politics would eventually get on track, even if the coming 480- seat House of Representatives election scheduled for Dec. 16 would result in one party gaining an overwhelming majority.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Professor Masahiro Kobori said that the new government that would emerge after the elections will have to engage in a difficult balancing act between the Lower and the Upper Houses of the National Diet until next summer, when the next House of Councilors election is scheduled.

Kobori, a professor of law at Ritsumeikan University in the western Japanese city of Kyoto, said that the trend indicates a high likelihood of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its partner, the New Komei Party, assuming power after the elections.

However, he wondered whether the LDP could fulfill its key promises since the conservative party has made various pre- election pledges which, according to him, are considered " excessive" or too nationalistic.

For example, Koboro said, one of the LDP's pledges is to call for an immediate end of Japan's 15-year-old problem with deflation. He said that the party must instead cope with serious socio- economic issues such as the decreasing birthrate and the aging population. "Solutions to these problems are not so simple as forcing the Bank of Japan to ease monetary policy," he said.

The LDP has argued that the government needs to take tougher diplomatic measures against neighboring countries such as China and South Korea and has called for a revision to the constitution, in particular abolishing Article 9 to regain the right to initiate military action.

But Professor Kobori said it is uncertain whether those promises can be delivered promptly because technical reasons mean it takes years just to carry out such reforms.

Furthermore, those issues have nothing to do with the sluggish economy that Japan faces, Kobori added.

"As voters and media in Japan tend to want quick results from election pledges and expect at least better performance than that of the current government led by the Democratic Party of Japan, I would argue that the new administration will have to handle difficult situations soon," Kobori said.

Answering questions on the DPJ's recent decline in popularity, Professor Kobori attributed the main reason to its former election manifesto, which was packed with many pledges. He said these old promises included some "unrealistic" plans created only to win the last general election in 2009, less than 10 years after the center- left party was formed to bring down the old regime in Japan.

Kobori stressed that among them was a plan attributed to former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama that calls for the transfer of the US Marine Corps Air Station at Futenma, in the country's southern prefecture of Okinawa, out of the Okinawa Islands. In the end, he added, Hatoyama's handling of the debate worsened the general public's impression about later DPJ administrations.

Kobori also criticized another key promise in the old DPJ manifesto, the monthly 26,000 yen (about 316 U.S. dollars) allowance for each child up to the third grade of middle school as a permanent measure, regardless of tight budgets.

"Of course, we should admit that after Hatoyama, the succeeding administrations, led by Naoto Kan and then Yoshihiko Noda, have had to tackle serious and urgent matters, such as the earthquake and tsunami in March last year, the ensuing Fukushima nuclear crisis and diplomatic issues with neighboring nations. But the former manifesto relied too much on numerical targets that could not be fully achieved," Kobori said, adding that "voters could not trust these policies, even if they sounded nice."

In reaction to this political trend, he said some people in Japan are now expecting "third forces" to challenge the major parties, such as the right-wing Nippon Ishin no Kai led by former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, as well as Nippon Mirai no To (Japan Future Party) led by Governor Yukiko Kada of Shiga Prefecture, which is focusing on shifting away from nuclear energy.

But, considering the Upper House's 242 seats, where the LDP and the New Komei Party are currently not in the majority, he noted that the expected LDP-New Komei coalition government would have to compromise with those new parties in order to properly manage their administration.

"All I can say is that it will still take some more time, at least half a year, for the new administration to proceed with stabilization, since voters are now very much confused about their choices due to the number of candidates, of which there are 1,500, and the more than 10 political parties, all advancing very different policies and manifestos as they compete against each other," Kobori said.

Editor: Yang Lina
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