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.
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.