Japan’s voters sweep out ruling party

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The Japanese Communist Party maintained its nine seats in the Diet after the historic elections Aug. 30 that swept the Liberal Democratic Party from power. For a half a century the LDP has ruled Japan.

With a record voter turnout, the Democratic Party of Japan won 308 seats promising a new direction for Japan. Growing poverty, a stagnant economy and a younger generation with a dimmer future were all forces that fueled voter anger and desire for change.

Part of that change was electing more women. A record 54 women were elected, or 11.3 percent of the total, exceeding 10 percent for the first time.

At a news conference in Nagano City, days before the election, JCP Chair Shii Kazuo said voters overwhelmingly reject the LDP policies, but they don't wholeheartedly support the DPJ policies and its political line and don't expect to see big changes with a DPJ-led government.

"This is the important point to consider," he said, as reported in Akahata and Japan Press Service.

"In one poll, regarding DPJ policies, 55 percent of the respondents said they do not support the proposal for child allowances, and 67 percent said making the nation's expressways toll free is not a good idea.

"What is more, 83 percent said DPJ policies are not convincing because of the uncertainty about its sourcing of fiscal resources," he said. The DPJ has no plans to tax the super-rich and corporations to pay for its proposals, so the burden will fall on working-class families, the JCP charges.

"The DPJ's call for Japan-U.S. free trade agreement (FTA) talks to be promoted and for the number of proportional representation seats in the House of Representatives to be reduced is also causing concern among the public," Shii said.

The JCP will do all that it can to prevent the signing of an FTA between Japan and the U.S., Shii said. He argued that the agreement would likely cause a lot of pain to Japan's industry, and in particular, the agriculture sector. "By some estimates," he said, "rice farmers could see their business decline by 82 percent."

Before the election, the JCP declared itself a "constructive opposition party" that will cooperate with a DPJ-led government in implementing policies in the public interest and will oppose policies that are not in the public interest, Shii said.

For example, Shii said, "In a debate of party leaders, I said that the Japan-U.S. secret agreement on the handling of nuclear weapons should be disclosed and abrogated. In response, DPJ President Hatoyama Yukio said he will negotiate with the U.S. in order to prohibit the U.S. from bringing nuclear weapons into Japan. This is how we are already playing our part as a constructive opposition party."

Furthermore, Shii said, the JCP's vision, which includes an economy governed by rules to protect the people's livelihoods and a peace-oriented foreign policy and adherence to Article 9 of the constitution, are key alternatives with growing support among the people.

The JCP has seen its popularity rise over the last year amid the growing crisis of capitalism, especially the global recession and skyrocketing unemployment, fueled by the financial meltdown.

 

 

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