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.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping the First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
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

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Maths Teacher

£90 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Science Teacher (mater...

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for an ...

Maths Teacher

£22000 - £37000 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: A West Yorkshire School i...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week