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Koizumi Won’t Resign

Posted July. 12, 2004 22:12,   


As the Democratic Party beat the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the Upper House Election on July 11, the bipartisan structure of Japanese politics has been settled.

Although Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi doesn’t have to take responsibility for the defeat, it is sure that his support inside the party will be weakened. It is assumed that ignoring the opinions of both public and the Assembly when dispatching Japan`s Self-Defense Force (SDF) to Iraq and when changing the national pension system caused a backlash among voters that was felt on election day.

However, there will not be major changes in policies because the coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito Party still holds more than half of the seats in the House.

--Stagnant Liberal Democratic Party

The LDP only acquired 49 seats, which is one less seat than it had held previously. However, Koizumi said in a press interview on July 12 that he has no intention of resigning while reformation policies are making satisfactory progress.

He stressed that there will not be changes made in Korean Peninsula policies, like the six-way talks and amity with the North.

However, the faces of the Prime Minister and other executive members of the party, including Abe Sinzo, the chief secretary, were dark.

The LDP’s dependency on the New Komeito Party, which is founded on the base of the religion Soka Gakkai, has increased since the LDP failed to achieve more than half of the seats in the House on its own. It is predicted that there will be debate over the identity of the party during the negotiation of policies with the New Komeito Party.

--Enthusiastic Democrats

The Democrats acquired 50 seats, which is more than the number the LDP acquired, and 12 more seats than their previous total. Katsuya Okada, the party’s representative, said on July 12 that “it was the judgment from the people who were tired of hearing honey-mouthed reformation talk from the Koizumi administration. We will win the next election and succeed in changing power.”

Up until now, Japanese voters had been disappointed in Koizumi’s LDP, but they also did not think that the Democrats were capable of handling national policies. However, the Democrat victory over the LDP in number of proportional seats and their winning even support from regions where they used to be weak shows that people’s confidence in the Democrats has increased.

It was also a great boost for the party that female voters in their thirties preferred them to the LDP. It shows that they no longer have the image of a male-supported party.

--Constitution protection collapses

Losing to the bipartisan structure, the Social Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party failed to achieve a single seat in the house. However, they barely managed to retain the minimum amount of support required for them to continue as political parties as they each won four and two proportional seats.

As the parties protecting the ‘Peace Constitution’ no longer hold support from the people, constitutional reformation policies pushed by the Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party will be accelerated.

Hun-Joo Cho hanscho@donga.com