Changes Comes to Japan but How Much
by Ian Bremmer
Much of the fascination, foreign and domestic, with
Obama didn't simply promise change, he embodies it. Japanese voters can now claim they've done the Americans one better. Two weeks ago, they passed power from the party that has ruled virtually continuously since 1955 to the opposition
Few recognize how historic the DPJ victory really is.
A brand-new ruling party must now put the world's second-largest economy back on its feet. DPJ officials have made some extraordinary promises.
Just as Obama pledged that merit, not ideological affinity, would determine who fills key government posts,
And just as Obama will soon test the limits of his (and his party's) power to enact sweeping change, the leadership of
If the DPJ has any clear public mandate, it's to restore public confidence in the government's ability to get things done.
The DPJ's second problem is that it cannot rule alone. Though it won about two-thirds of seats in the lower house of parliament, it will need a coalition partner to build a working majority in the upper house.
America's Democrats don't really control 60
To ease financial burdens on families, Hatoyama has proposed a plan to pay parents about
On foreign policy, fears in
As fighting in
As the new Japanese leadership finds its footing, it's likely to face a political criticism that Obama would recognize -- that the DPJ is pursuing the policy path of least resistance. But if Hatoyama can centralize state decision-making, staff the government with smart, hard-working professionals, and draft a credible budget, it will have given voters an important part of what they say they want.
When times are hard, nothing swings elections like promises of change.
But as Obama has discovered in the U.S.,
Letter From Tokyo: New Regime, New Relationship
Kent E. Calder
The DPJ now holds nearly two-thirds of the 480 seats in the Japanese Diet's powerful lower house, which approves budgets, initiates most legislation, and selects the prime minister. Given such dominance, the party, however fractious, will likely remain in power for at least the four years of its new parliamentary mandate -- influencing the country's political-economic landscape during a crucial period of transition in East Asian affairs, and potentially in U.S.-Japanese relations as well.
The landslide election of Japan's Democratic Party in last weekend's parliamentary vote parallels the election of Barack Obama to the American presidency last November. In both cases opposition parties long out of power (in the Japanese case, all but totally excluded from national power during the six decades of the postwar Japanese government's existence) have been elected at a time of crisis to change the nation's policy.
Communist China Turns 60 and Reveals Its Insecurities
Nearly every comment being published on China's celebration of its brilliant economic successes has in one way or another raised the question of the future of a country that once was the most ideologically driven of major powers, but today has no governing ideology, or philosophy, or mobilizing goals. This above all threatens the governing Communist Party
(c) 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.