5 Ways the Electoral Landslide Will Change Japan

U.S. relations will become more equal, and politics on the island nation may enter a new period of instability.

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As the Wire covered on Friday, experts correctly predicted that Japan would overturn its fifty-year incumbent party for the Democratic Party of Japan, which has galvanized hopes of overcoming economic stagnation, bureaucratic hegemony and falling birthrates. Now that the DPJ has ousted its rivals in a landslide, what comes next? Many experts caution that we shouldn't get too carried way with optimism, but the overwhelming strain is relief and congratulation as Japan--a nation wary of political change--enters a new era.

Here are five of the best visions of how experts think the the landmark elections may change Japan:

  • End of Bureaucracy Rule, argues Tobias Harris, widely regarded author of the blog Observing Japan in the interview above on CNBC. "I suspect we're going to see the cabinet as a much stronger institution collectively. The ministers as a group will really be governing Japan."
  • Another Decade of Lost Growth, warns Mary Kissel, editor of the Wall Street Journal Asia editorial page. "At home, Mr. Hatoyama's Keynesian worship may spell another lost decade of growth for the world's second-largest economy. He stands for agricultural protectionism, higher minimum wages, higher taxes in the name of environmental responsibility and more handouts to the elderly, parents and unemployed...The phrase 'economic growth' scored nary a mention in his campaign pledges."
  • More Equality, and More Assertiveness in U.S. Relations, anticipates Jeff Kingston in Foreign Policy. "In a multipolar world, Washington is open to more assertive allies, but also wants to see them ante up. For too long, Japan has been reactive, responding only reluctantly and minimally under pressure. More equality carries more responsibility, requiring Japan's new government to decide not only what it does not want to do, but also what it will do."
  • Real Democracy, At Last, says Steve Clemons at the Washington Note. "Japan now has a genuine two party structure -- and the Japanese government that will soon take form succeeding the Taro Aso government -- will be the first manifestation in many years that a post-WWII lobotomized Japan has now healed itself and is moving forward. Japan will now learn to be itself, to pursue its own interests in a more healthy manner than in the past...Japan will now become something new -- and its democracy today is far more real than what it has had in decades."
  • Further Political Instability, predicts an editorial in the London Telegraph. "In finally breaking this unhealthy dominance, the DPJ offers the prospect of change - but also uncertainty. It is a coalition of factionalist opposition parties and individuals united more by their disdain for the LDP than by any coherent programme for action.... Change is clearly in the air in Japan; but it might be bought at the expense of the political stability it has long enjoyed."
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