World / Asia-Pacific

Biz leaders hope LDP victory will break impasse

By Cai Hong in Tokyo (China Daily) Updated: 2012-12-18 07:56

What a difference three and a half years can make.

Disappointed Japanese voters delivered a knockout blow to the Democratic Party of Japan on Sunday, just as they did to the Liberal Democratic Party in 2009. In addition to giving his position of prime minister to LDP leader Shinzo Abe, Yoshihiko Noda resigned as leader of the DPJ.

Former Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan of the DPJ and eight members of the Noda cabinet, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura and Education Minister Makiko Tanaka, lost their Diet seats.

The result of Sunday's lower house polls was unsurprising. The LDP and its long-term ally New Komeito secured 325 seats in the House of Representatives, a more powerful chamber than the House of Councilors.

Their seats are enough to form a two-thirds majority, which will give them the power to override upper house decisions. But overrides are rare and the political costs can be high if voters perceive such moves as heavy-handed.

The LDP has conceded that it is retaking the helm after three years because the Japanese public is disillusioned with its rival.

Voters protested against the stagnation in politics by refusing to show up. The Japanese Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said that a record low 59.3 percent of eligible voters headed to the polls on Sunday.

The LDP's return doesn't necessarily mean that Japan's politics will change fundamentally. The LDP and New Komeito alliance is setting out on a rocky road, given that the two are divided on many policies.

On the economic front, Abe has vowed to tackle the deflation besetting the economy, promising to impose a 3 percent inflation target on the Bank of Japan and forcing it to buy bonds - effectively deficit financing.

Natsuo Yamaguchi, chief of New Komeito, suggested boosting the economy by monetary easing and other measures, followed by a sales tax hike.

The DPJ, LDP and New Komeito agreed during the summer to cooperate on social security and tax reforms. But the LDP's tough campaign stance on Japan's foreign and defense policies do not strike a chord with New Komeito.

In its election manifesto, the LDP pledges to improve Japan's relations with China and South Korea in an effort to achieve freedom, affluence and stability in Asia.

Learning that his party won Sunday's election, Abe said he would work on improving China-Japan relations under the framework of a stronger Japan-US alliance, vowing to make no concessions on the territorial disputes.

The New Komeito party seeks "a peaceful solution through calm dialogue".

But the LDP-New Komeito coalition is in the air. Abe said on Monday he would meet with the head of New Komeito on Tuesday to discuss forming a ruling coalition.

The LDP's win by an overwhelming majority on Sunday began to raise expectations that monetary easing measures will be introduced.

Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, Japan's largest business lobby, issued a statement calling for the speedy implementation of policy under the new administration.

Other business leaders in Japan hope that the LDP victory will break the impasse in Japanese politics.

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