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Japanese Upper House Election
Article added on July 30, 2007
  
The Upper House or House of Councillors (Sangiin) of the National Diet of Japan is composed of 242 members. They serve six year terms. Half of the Upper House is re-elected every three years. 144 members of the Sangiin are elected from 47 prefectural constituencies by the system of the single non-transferable vote, the remaining 98 members are elected by party list by the system of proportional representation from a single national list. Councillors must be at least 30 years old. Citizens at least the age of 20 have the right to vote.

The Lower House can override decisions of the Upper House by a two-thirds majority of members present. If the two houses of the Diet disagree, the Lower House can only delay the adoption of the budget, treaties as well as the designation of the prime minister.

In office since September 2006, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his cabinet and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have failed their popularity test in the Japanese Upper House Election of July 29, 2007. Despite the crushing defeat, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe refuses to step down.

In the Japanese context, Shinzo Abe (*1954) is a young, in fact Japan's youngest post-Second World War prime minister. He is inexperienced and without a strong power base within the LDP. Right now, no serious and dangerous contender for his job is in sight.

However, Shinzo Abe lacks the charisma of his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi; previously, Abe served as Koizumi's Chief Cabinet Secretary. If the current head of government cannot turn around the ship, the LDP may well decide to change its leader before the next Lower House election.

Since the LDP holds a two-thirds majority in the Lower House, the impact of the current defeat is limited. Still, governing will become tougher for Shinzo Abe. On critical issues, dissenting voices within the LDP could join the ranks of the opposition.



On July 29, 2007 the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) became the largest party in the Upper House with 109 seats. It previously held 81 seats. The DPJ won 60 out of 121 contested seats, with 49 DPJ seats not up to the election. The LDP and its partner, New Komeito (NK), won only 46 seats. The LDP alone won 37 seats. The ruling coalition needed to win 64 seats to keep its majority. Now, the LDP only controls a total of 83 upper house seats.

Official Upper House election result (121 of 242 seats up for election): DPJ 60, LDP 37, New Komeito 9, JCP 3, SDP 2, 2, NPN 1, independents 7.

The DPJ leader, Ichiro Ozawa (*1942), is a former chief secretary of the LDP. He left the party in 1993 to form the Japan Renewal Party. In 1998, the DPJ, a merger of four previously independent parties, was created. In 2003, the DPJ merged with the smaller center-right Liberal Party, then led by Ichiro Ozawa.

In recent years, the DPJ opposed the deployment of Japanese troops to Iraq and was critical of the government's strengthening of the military. Ichiro Ozawa promised to reduce income gaps and to help farmers. However, the main reason for the 2007 defeat of the LDP was a series of scandals.

Over the past years, the government lost a large part of the national pension records. Most Japanese cannot prove what they have paid in the past. In another country, there would probably be public riots or at least large scale demonstrations.

After being accused of corruption, Abe's first minister of agriculture hanged himself in May 2007. The new agricultural minister had to apologize at the end of July for double booking expense claims. Abe's first defense minister had to resign after justifying the USA's use of nuclear weapons against Japan during the Second World War.

Towards the end of the electoral campaign, Shinzo Abe focused on the positive economic record of his cabinet. He is committed to continue the fiscal reforms introduced by Junichiro Koizumi and has appointed a tax policy expert, Koji Omi, as Minister of Finance. Abe has taken first steps towards balancing the Japanese budget, the unemployment rate was at a nine-year low of 3.8% in May 2007, and Japan's economy expanded for a ninth consecutive quarter from January to March 2007. However, in the days before the election, stock markets around the globe suffered a slump, pushing the Nikkei stock index down to a four-month low.

Since 1955, the year the party was created, the LDP has virtually uninterruptedly controlled Japan's government. If Abe continues the reform path and forms a more competent cabinet, no end to the LDP rule is in sight.

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Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages
Google
 
 Index  Advertise  Links  Feedback
 © www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber All rights reserved.