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Lack of Strong Leadership Plagues Japan`s Ruling Party

Posted August. 28, 2009 03:40,   


With two days left before Japan’s general elections, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the main opposition Democratic Party hold opposite moods.

The Democratic Party, the heavy favorite to win the elections, is overwhelmed with joy while the ruling party is in agony. The Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun yesterday said the opposition party is expected to take around 320 seats and the ruling party about 100 of the Diet’s 480 seats.

The ruling party is expected to overhaul its leadership shortly after the Sunday elections since Prime Minister Taro Aso’s term expires Sept. 30. The party, however, is likely to face difficulty finding candidates for its leader since it is uncertain whether influential candidates for the position might lose in the elections.

Leading ruling party figures such as Japanese Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, who competed against Aso for prime minister last year, have shown weak support in key districts. It is also uncertain whether leaders of the ruling party’s factions will win in the elections.

Others say the ruling party might not have leading figures who can lead a revamp when the party becomes the opposition. Leading party figures are too busy earning votes in their own electorates.

So the ruling party suffers from a serious lack of leadership in playing a central role in the party’s preparation for the elections or helping those in neck-and-neck competitions.

The Democratic Party, which most are treating as Japan’s next ruling party, has set up strategies to lead the nation. If it comes to power, the new National Strategy Bureau under the prime minister will consist of 30 high-ranking officials and private members.

The bureau will also be led by a core member of the Cabinet. Certain newspapers have even released articles predicting who will fill the positions of foreign minister, finance minister and chief cabinet secretary.

Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama, who is probably the next prime minister, has considered naming leading party figures to key posts including Ichiro Ozawa, Naoto Kan and Katsuya Okada. Hatoyama contributed the article “A New Path for Japan” to The New York Times to announce his plan.

The Democratic Party has nominated 330 candidates, including 271 candidates for provincial and municipal electorates. If it wins a landslide victory, it could face a lack of official candidates for proportional representatives. The number of successful candidates allotted could surpass that of those in certain electorates including Kyushu, where the Democratic Party could sweep all seats, among 11 proportional representation electorates.

When the Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory in 2005, it gave a proportional representative seat to a Socialist Party candidate in Tokyo.