For regular observers of Japanese politics (which does not include yours truly) this will be something of a non event. In fact, it has been brewing for more than a while given the rising unpopularity of the ruling LDP and its stifled leadership (a wobbly minister at a G7 meeting springs to mind). However, it is still significant, I think, that the troubled PM Aso and his equally troubled party, the LDP have decided, in all probability, to throw in the towel. Now, one would imagine, begins a war over economic policies, consumption taxes, pension systems etc. The economic effects of this may be important once we get an indication of what the opposing parties have in store. Clearly, the Aso and the LDP in general look set to suffer a crunching defeat come August, but I won't even dare to venture a formal prediction. According to Reuters (see below), markets appear dissapointed that the elections would not come sooner, but then again; August sounds pretty soon to me. Clearly, much of the debate (and analysis) will center on the issue of why the ruling party headed by Aso has chosen to seek a renewal of its mandate at this particular point in time when it seems that it is bound to get mashed. But then again; desperate times and desperate measures ...
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso plans to call a general election on August 30, a top ruling party official said on Monday, despite the prospect that his long-ruling conservative party is headed for a big defeat. The decision to dissolve the lower house for a vote follows a crushing loss for the unpopular leader's ruling bloc in a Tokyo assembly election on Sunday that was seen as a barometer for the national poll, which is due no later than October.
Parliament's powerful lower house would be dissolved next week to set the stage for the election, Hiroyuki Hosoda, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), told reporters. Moves within the LDP to replace Aso had been expected to grow after the party and its junior partner lost their majority in the Tokyo assembly but Hosoda said he saw no such moves now. A Democratic Party victory in the national election would end half a century of nearly unbroken rule by the business-friendly LDP and raise the chance of resolving political deadlocks as Japan tries to recover from its worst recession since World War Two. Chaos has gripped the LDP, with Aso's critics inside the party speaking of ditching him while the party's campaign strategist had tried to draft an ex-comedian for its ticket.
"It's clear if parliament is dissolved now, the result would be the same as the Tokyo election," Natsuo Yamaguchi, policy chief of the LDP's junior coalition partner, the New Komeito, told a TV Asahi program. The Democrats have pledged to pay more heed to the rights of consumers and workers than those of corporations and to pry policy-making decisions out of the hands of bureaucrats as a way to reduce wasteful spending.
If you have more info and comments please do feel free to drop them in the comments section. Like I hinted in the beginning, this is not a blog on political analysis, but given the huge amount of issues which are looming I am interested in the way the discourse evolves once the gridlock is officially absolved and the fight begins.