Japan’s next leader, Yukio Hatoyama, has begun talks on forming a government after voters gave his Democratic Party a sweeping mandate for change.
Sunday’s historic election win ends its 54-year spell in opposition and a political deadlock that has seen Japan struggle to make reforms. “It’s taken a long time, but we have at last reached the starting line. This is by no means the destination. At long last we are able to create a new kind of politics that will fulfill the expectations of the people,” Yukio Hatoyama told a news conference at his home in Tokyo. The defeated Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was left to lick its wounds after its worst election performance since the conservative party was founded in 1955. Outgoing prime minister Taro Aso has taken responsibility for his pro-business party’s historic defeat, saying he would resign as its leader. His efforts to persuade the electorate that only his experienced conservatives could help Japan get back on its feet failed to convince. After leading an electoral revolution, the real hard work lies ahead for Japan’s next prime minister. Record unemployment and tattered public finances will be among the urgent issues in Yukio Hatoyama’s in-tray. Hatoyama is to set up a transition team to organise the change of government, but has said he will not announce his cabinet until he is officially elected prime minister by a special session of parliament, probably in about two weeks.