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Those of you following the live-blogging coverage of the Upper House elections (my thanks to Observing Japan for its excellent coverage) will have witnessed a stunning victory by the DPJ today.

Ichiro Ozawa

Who would have thought that the DPJ would do so well? Even its helmsman, Ichiro Ozawa (left), doubted their prospects of reaching the stated 55 seat aim. However, at the most recent count, the DPJ has won 60 seats to the LDP’s 37! That is a stunning win for the DPJ and far beyond the disappointment of the previous election (which forced the resignation of party leader Okada Katsuya, and it signals a possible fork in the road for Japanese politics.

This is an outstanding performance and genuinely shows the disappointment of the core LDP voters in the rural inaka. My fiancée’s mother told us that she was excited for the future, but that it was a muted excitement. The Upper House is not as significant a win as the Lower House (although it should scuttle LDP-led constitutional reform), and the Japanese electorate appear to be resigned to the fact that no one politician can make a difference (perhaps showing Koizumi’s time in power to be an interlude to a longer story, and also very reminiscent of the situation here in the UK).

My own feelings are that the DPJ owes its success not only to LDP scandals, but the power of Ichiro Ozawa. That man is a dreamer, and has been criticised as being lacking in his time at the top of the DPJ. He has been my favourite Diet member ever since I picked up his book (published in English as Blueprint for a New Japan). Although he has been struggling with illness, his campaign to compete with the LDP in the rural districts appears to have paid off in a big way.

I want to congratulate the DPJ, Ichiro Ozawa and the rest of the campaigners for a job well done. My only hope is that they can now translate this into victory in the next General Election.



  1. I’m going to blame LDP meltdown more than give credit to Ozawa. Ozawa did well, no doubt about it, but the LDP handed him their own ass on a platter.

  2. Well, I’m not blind to that fact. However, LDP failure doesn’t always translate into significant opposition success. That the DPJ could woo those voters meant a lot. However, beyond the LDP scandals and gaffes, undoubtedly there is the element of increased blurring of the political divisions (as Ampontan suggested) which means that traditional party allegiances mean less and less as the parties themselves are converging.

    That the DPJ exploited a weakened LDP is not something to be ignored… The Conservative Party couldn’t capitalise on similar weaknesses here in the UK at the last General Election. That had much to do with leadership and increased convergence too…

  3. Shingen –

    Seiji Maehara resigned over the forged e-mail incident. It was Okada Katsuya who resigned after the September 2005 election loss.

  4. MTC: thanks for that. I always confuse the two!

  5. Good points Shingen…

    However, beyond the LDP scandals and gaffes, undoubtedly there is the element of increased blurring of the political divisions

    You mean to follow that with “As the Japanese media has suggested,” right?

  6. Actually, I have no idea what I meant now! :-D It certainly doesn’t seem like I wanted to put what I actually put… so for now, I’ll just agree with you.

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Party of Japan, helmed by Ozawa Ichiro. I’m not an expert on these matters, so check out I, Shingen or Observing Japan for a more specialized perspective on these events (New York Times headline). […]

  2. […] have, not surprisingly, offered mixed reactions to the election results. While some have voiced support for the DPJ and their leader Ozawa Ichiro, others have argued that the DPJ victory is grounded more in dissatisfaction with the LDP — […]

  3. By Jawdropping, J-blogging Matsuri (3) on 03 Aug 2007 at 2:49 am

    […] The man behind the DPJ’s rise to power [link] […]

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