Thursday, August 27, 2009

Even In Japan, Change is a Math Formula

No one would ever accuse the Japanese of sudden, thoughtless, knee-jerk political change. Most experienced Japan watchers in the US would agree that throughout its post-war history while Japan has been a democracy, it's been a democracy with only one party, the LDP. Year after year, election after election, the question wasn't whether the LDP would maintain its rule--it's been in power for 53 out of the last 54 years. The only question was, which faction within the LDP would emerge on top.
Until now.
Sunday, Japan's voters go to the polls and if the reports play out as expected, the LDP will suffer a massive, unprecedented loss to something called the Democratic party of Japan, the DPJ. According to The Guardian newspaper of Britain, "Despite its dominance at the polls, the DPJ remains an unknown quantity." The party has made ambitious promises to the voters, raising spending on social programs while cutting taxes--without explaining how it intends to do any of it.
So why is Japan poised to take this momentous step?
Here's what The Guardian says: "As Japan grapples with rising unemployment, population decline and a creaking state pension, the certainties of the postwar era have disappeared, and with them the LDP's sense of entitlement as the natural party of government."
In other words, the cost of the status quo has gone up so much, that the Japanese electorate is ready to embrace the risk of change.
Rule #5 works, even in Japan.

All Rights Reserved 2009 (c) Alan Webber, Rules Of Thumb