Commentary: Three PM elections in a year upset Japanese politics

08:19, September 15, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

Three elections for prime minister in a year reflect the embarrassment and volatility of Japan's political system.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan won the leadership vote of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) on Tuesday to remain the country's leader.

Whoever wins the party election will become the prime minister, because the DPJ has a majority in the lower house of parliament.

Kan collected 721 points out of the total 1,222 points up for grabs, while DPJ kingpin Ichiro Ozawa obtained only 491 points. The votes were cast by DPJ's 411 members of parliament, local DPJ lawmakers, and party members and supporters.

In the 1990s, Japan's economy slowed and stumbled forward during the so-called "lost decade." Since 2000, except for former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's five-year continuous governance, the average of all other prime ministers' terms is less than a year.

The DPJ secured a historic victory in the general election in August 2009, breaking the Liberal Democratic Party's almost unbroken rule for over half a century.

Yukio Hatoyama was the first to serve as prime minister after the DPJ's election win but he stepped down in June after failing to follow through on a promise to move an unpopular U.S. military base from the island of Okinawa and amid a political funding scandal.

Kan succeeded Hatoyama after winning the ensuing DPJ leadership election.

But only three months later, Kan Tuesday had to endure the acid test of another party election, after the DPJ lost seats in upper house elections in July, a result blamed in part on Kan's stance on raising consumption tax in a bid to reduce Japan's massive public debt.

The frequent change of Japanese prime minister is attributed to the country's economic performance, political system, party mechanism and public opinion.

Long-term economic stagnancy in Japan has resulted in the public easily losing patience with the ruling party. The government, in order to rally public support, chooses another political heavyweight within its camp to serve as prime minister. But no sooner does a new prime minister assume office than a new round of political wrestling starts within the ruling party.

Japan's political turbulence has considerably effected the planning and implementation of the country's economic and foreign policies. For example, the Japanese government and central bank didn't adopt major measures to tackle the appreciation of the yen in the past weeks before a new prime minister was elected.

However, for any Japanese prime minister, it is a tough task to secure long tenure and avoid political volatility.

Source: Xinhua


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Photo taken on Sept. 29, 2011 shows a cargo ship in danger on the sea near Zhuhai City, south China's Guangdong Province. Cargo ship Fangzhou 6 of Qingzhou of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region lost control after water stormed into its cabin due to Typhoon Nesat on the sea near Zhuhai Thursday, leaving 12 crew members in danger. Rescuers rushed to the ship and saved them by using a helicopter. (Xinhua)
  • Actress Gong Li poses for L'Officiel Magazine. (Xinhua Photo)
  • Demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street campaign hold placards as they march in the financial district of New York September 29, 2011. After hundreds of protesters were denied access to some areas outside the New York Stock Exchange on September 17, demonstrators set up a rag-tag camp three blocks away. Zuccotti Park is a campground festooned with placards and anti-Wall Street slogans. The group is adding complaints of excessive police force against protesters and police treatment of ethnic minorities and Muslims to its grievances list, which includes bank bailouts, foreclosures and high unemployment. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
  • The romantic myth of the Aegean 
The Aegean Sea is between the Greece Peninsula and Asia Minor Peninsula, dotted with many beautiful scenery islands, like a paradise on earth.  The ancient city of Troy in the east coast of Aegean, Turkey, and Mycenaean sites in the west bank of Greece, which have been archaeological discoveries, now are the must visit places in journey of the Aegean Sea. Above, these desolate dilapidated stone, the sunny blue sky and white clouds and vessels roaming at sea, arriving and departing travellers, add more romantic to the sea and the islands.
  • Chinese Permanent Representative to the United Nations Li Baodong (R) welcomes UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York, the United States. Sept. 29, 2011. The Chinese permanent delegation to the UN held a reception on Thursday to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and the 40th anniversary of China's returning to the UN. (Xinhua/Shen Hong)
  • Chinese ambassador to Bulgaria Guo Yezhou delivers a speech during the reception in Sofia, capital of Bulgaria, on Sept. 29, 2011. The Chinese Embassy in Bulgaria held a grand reception here on Thursday to celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. (Xinhua/Wang Meng)
Hot Forum Discussion