An era ends as Japan's LDP is swept from power

Ruling party projected to lose two-thirds of its seats after dominating for decades

Japanese voters sensationally evicted the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) from power in national elections yesterday, bringing to an end an era of political domination that had endured almost unbroken for 54 years.

The party, which was once described as neither liberal nor democratic and not even really a party, was trounced by the centre-left Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ). As of 1.20am, the DPJ had gained 304 of the 333 seats won by opposition parties in the 480-seat House of Representatives, or lower house, the more powerful of Japan's bicameral parliament, the Diet. The LDP only managed to garner 116 and its coalition partner, New Komeito, just 19 seats.

Media projections had the DPJ winning as many as 320 seats and the LDP losing two-thirds of its representation.

It was a victory of unprecedented proportions for the party led by Yukio Hatoyama. No other party in Japanese political history has ever doubled its representation in the Diet. The DPJ almost tripled the number of seats it held when Prime Minister Taro Aso dissolved the lower house on 20 July. Despite bad weather caused by an approaching typhoon, voter turnout had been projected at 70 per cent.

Gerald Curtis of Columbia University, an expert on Japanese politics, said: "There aren't many junctures in Japan's post-war politics when you can say, 'That was a day that history changed.' Today was such a day."

Mr Aso told reporters he would resign as party president to take responsibility for the LDP's drubbing and schedule a party leadership election.

The LDP's failure to find a solution to Japan's protracted economic woes was the strongest reason for the unprecedented humiliation the party suffered. "Nothing will ever change under the LDP," said Ami Nitano, 20, voting for the first time in her Chiba constituency north of Tokyo, explaining why she voted DPJ.

There was widespread agreement that the economy was the central issue in the election. The government reported on Friday that unemployment had reached an all-time high of 5.7 per cent in July. Deflation worsened in the same month, with consumer prices tumbling a record 2.2 per cent.

"The economy is a mess," 61-year-old restaurant owner Hiroshi Iwaya said as he made his way to a polling station in Yachiyo. A lifelong LDP voter, Mr Iwaya said that this time he planned to cast his ballot for the DPJ.

The DPJ pledged to introduce child benefits throughout junior high school, pension reform, free public school education, income subsidies for farmers, to eliminate wasteful pork-barrel spending on public works projects and to abolish motorway tolls. But it pledged foreign policy continuity based on the Japan-US security alliance.

Its most ambitious pledge was to transfer policymaking power from bureaucrats to politicians. It plans to create a "national strategy bureau", under the direct control of the Prime Minister, which will set policies and compile the national budget.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Buttoned up: Ryan Reynolds with Helen Mirren in ‘Woman in Gold’
filmFor every box-office smash in his Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. Now he says it's time for a reboot
News
people
News
Actress Julianne Moore wins the Best Actress in a Leading Role Award for 'Still Alice' during the 87th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, California
people
Sport
Ross Barkley
footballPaul Scholes says it's time for the Everton playmaker to step up and seize the England No 10 shirt
News
'We will fix it': mice in the 1970s children’s programme Bagpuss
science
Life and Style
2 Karl Lagerfeld and Choupette
fashion
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?