In a democracy, the elections allow ordinary citizens to swap those at the apex of power to bring out changes needed for the society. But, why this has not been the case with Japan? One can cite two reasons for this: either the ruling party LDP has performed exceptionally well over the years or the main opposition party DPJ has failed to give the impression to the voters that they are capable of out-smarting LDP in terms of performance. And the truth is somewhere between these two notions. In August 1993, the only non-LDP government in Japan since 1955 came into existence after the LDP suffered an unprecedented defeat in the lower house elections. The current head of the DPJ, Yukio Hatoyama, served as vice chief cabinet secretary in the ministry. However, the governments led by Hosokawa and Tsutomu Hata, lasted only a combined total of 10-months, as the then-Japan Socialist Party left the coalition, destroying its majority in the parliament and impelling it out of power. This coalition politics, where every partner has its own policies and agenda, was just discarded by the Japanese voters in subsequent years. Besides this, Japanese people always viewed LDP as a party synonymous with Japan’s rise, its magical growth and its postwar peace.
But, things have changed over the years. The ordinary Japanese citizens who used to see LDP as a synonymous to stability has given them three Prime Ministers in the last 3-years. The voters who credited LDP for the tremendous economic growth of Japan are overwhelmed by the unprecedented unemployment rate and recession as more than 30,000 people commit suicide every year (read this article). People believe that Japan's self-image as Asia's miracle has taken a huge blow due to the rise of China. The Japanese people have probably begun to feel that their country is not getting the space it deserves on the global map in the geo-political affairs. Therefore, in the upcoming elections, one can sense the wind of change blowing in favor of the democrats. Also, the main opposition coalition led by DPJ is trying to come up with innovative manifesto and promise of a all-out change. They are doing their best to reach out to the voters through launching of massive campaigns as well as the televised debates. I was in the city of Yokohama a couple of days before where I happen to attend an election-show. Below is an image from that campaign in which the DPJ- supported mayoral candidate Hayashi Fumiko is giving an electoral speech (The election to select a successor to the outgoing Yokohama Mayor is also scheduled to be held on August 30 alongside the parliamentary election).
The opinion polls are suggesting a clear advantage to the opposition DPJ. But, can a party that has only sat on the opposition's bench form a stable government? Can they eliminate the difference between saying and doing, if come to power? The Newsweek once wrote that "The Democratic Party of Japan often resembles the country's soccer team: it has plenty of talent, yet always manages to blow its best shot." Nonetheless, LDP or DPJ, whoever comes to the power, the main agenda should be to get the country out of recession and to bring smile back on the people's face, to remain committed for cutting down of the greenhouse gas emissions and to devise a policy that would restore Japan's pride as the miracle of Asia. As a well-wisher of Japan, I hope that whichever party looses the election, let the democracy win on the 30th August. Because, winning or loosing is just a political game and, democracy is much important than an election.