What do you associate Japan with? – Sushi, Tempura, Geisha, Ninja, high-technology, the world’s second largest economy, Tokyo – one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, Kyoto – a beautiful historic city…
However, if you were in Japan now, you might not enjoy them whether you were in Tokyo or in Kyoto.
You could find political candidates for their victory in the general election, scheduled on August 31, were blasting their names from noisy sound trucks and making campaign speeches on the street to garner votes.
The vote-seekers are making already busy and noisy Japanese cities even busier and noisier, spoiling your precious chance to enjoy tasting wonderful sushi or tempura. Nobody may want to eat sushi or talk to a geisha with earplugs on.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan and its junior coalition the New Komeito since 2002 have cooperated with each other and promoted political reforms and economic stimulus measures, including Postal Privatization, especially under the former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of that time and his cabinet members.
They succeeded in the economic stimulus system pushing mainly export-led economy and it bore fruits. Also, some deregulations created new domestic business opportunities to revitalized Japanese financial markets.
Those efforts kept Mr Koizumi and his ruling coalition in power for 5 years and 5 months of the third-longest period since the end of the Second World War.
Nevertheless, the ruling LDP, in power for an extraordinary long period, now is under increasingly pressure. What has led the party to the corner?
Japanese citizens may think Koizumi administrations pigeonholed the optimization of social security policies.
They were reluctant to tackle problems of aging society with low birthrate and fewer children as well as medical service reform, despite the rising demand for them.
The global financial crisis devastated the export-driven pump-priming measures.
That means excessive dependence on external demands from overseas backfired and seriously exacerbated Japanese economic and social systems, which seemed even worse than the situation before Koizumi had taken his office.
The rise of unemployment rate, the failure of pension funds led by the mismanagements and negligence of the government and privileged golden parachutes offering senior bureaucrats have fomented Japanese citizens’ anger and anxiety.
Those problems have induced the decline in the support rate of the incumbent Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso.
Actually, it is hardly new that there are a growing number of people who oppose the LDP-led political system.
Still, LDP has remained in power for more than 50 years, gaining strong supports from influential pressure groups or organizations.
They have withheld the LDP, providing the constantly huge number of votes and amount of funds.
However, Postal Privatization resulted in even weaker supports by some parts of Postal Association members.
And a haphazard medical reform led to the instability and imbalance of the medical service provision caused much weaker supports from some parts of Japan Medical Association than before as well.
In these situations, it is predicted that Japanese voters expect the biggest opposition, the Democratic Party of Japan, to win a single-party majority in the general election.
If that happens, Japanese political features are likely to greatly change, for better or worse, not just in internal affairs policies but also in foreign policies – of course, the relationship between Australia and Japan.