Voters in Japan have swept the opposition to a landslide victory in an election that has ousted the long-ruling conservative Liberal Democratic Party exit polls show.
The untested DPJ, led by Yukio Hatoyama, will inherit the job of reviving an an economy stuck in the doldrums. As news of the seismic shift in Japanese politics emerged, Hatoyama reitereated a campaign pledge that his Democratic Party of Japan, if elected, would include smaller parties in a coalition, with the Social Democratic Party and the People’s New Party. Exit polls show the winning DPJ with between 298 and 329 seats in the lower house of parliament and the outgoing LDP garnering between 87 and 131 seats. The win breaks the parliamentary deadlock that has hampered government decision-making. The new government will, it says, focus spending on consumers, cut wasteful budget outlays and reduce the power of bureaucrats. The outgoing Prime Minister Taro Aso has announced he will be stepping down. He said he was prepared to take responsibilty for the election defeat. A party leadership contest, he promised, will be held as soon as possible. The win breaks the parliamentary deadlock that has hampered government decision-making. The new government will, it says, focus spending on consumers, cut wasteful budget outlays and reduce the power of bureaucrats. But the DPJ will have to move quickly to maintain support among voters worried about a record jobless rate and a rapidly ageing society that is inflating social security costs. The ruling party’s loss ends a three-way partnership between the LDP, big business and bureaucrats that turned Japan’s economy into an economic juggernaut after the Second World War. Growth has stagnated since the country’s so called “bubble” economy burst in the late 1980s.