Japan’s prime minister-elect has begun the job of forming his government, after an election which has sent shock waves through the staunchly-traditional country. Yukio Hatoyama’s Democrats are enjoying a landslide victory which gives him a powerful mandate for change. Not surprisingly Hatoyama’s face smiled out from the front of the papers this morning, but the critics are already sniping. Too inexperienced, they say, his party not ready to govern.
The big loser is outgoing premier Taro Aso, who announced his intention to step down as leader of the crushed Liberal Democrats. “I am deeply disappointed that I lost so many collegues in the election and, as party leader, the responsibility rests with me,” he said. “Therefore, I am announcing my intention to step down as leader of the LDP.” The Democrats’ win ended five decades of nearly unbroken LDP rule, and left many people uncertain about the future. Hatoyama has already made his priority clear: the economy, and his first job is choosing a new finance minister to steer Japan out of recession.