Japanese tiptoe warily into a new political era: LDP faces freeze-out as reformers pick candidate for prime minister
In one sense it is the end of an era. Even if the coalition proves unable to agree on much beyond the need to oust the LDP, it is pledged to introduce reforms aimed at cleaning up Japanese politics. How much further it can go, or wants to go, is not yet clear. The prospective government quickly sought to reassure investors that it would not interfere with the LDP's record of economic achievement. Foreign allies are also being told that there will be no overnight change in Japan's policies, and the markets have been calm.
The seven-party 'non-LDP' coalition was yesterday joined by an eighth - the small trade union-based Rengo party, which has seats only in the upper house of the Diet. This simply emphasised the diversity of views in the grouping, which encompasses the Socialists, Japan's perennial opposition, and a number of more or less opportunist breakaways from the LDP, many of whom have few quarrels with their former colleagues on questions of policy.
Mr Hosokawa, although a senior member of the LDP for many years, is in a somewhat different category. He broke away to form his party 14 months ago, when it was by no means sure that Japan's post-war political dispensation was about to sunder. At the time he was thought to have condemned himself to irrelevance, but 12 days ago the Japan New Party won 36 seats in the lower house. After turning down a coalition offer from the LDP, he has used his base to gain concessions from the larger opposition parties.
The prospective prime minister is the descendant of feudal lords who held sway over the Kumamoto region of southern Japan. His maternal grandfather, Prince Fumimaro Konoe, twice served as prime minister in the 1930s and 1940s, committing suicide in 1945 on the day he was to have been arrested as a suspected war criminal by the Allied occupation authorities.
Mr Hosokawa served two terms as an LDP member in the upper house before becoming governor of Kumamoto prefecture, where he made a reputation as a clean and effective administrator. He would be Japan's second-youngest prime minister. A skiing champion whose good looks have given him a reputation as a womaniser, he makes a marked contrast to the aged incumbent, Kiichi Miyazawa. His relative youth and glamour would make it hard for the LDP to appoint another member of the corrupt old guard if it regains power, as it may well do.
Even if Mr Hosakawa's leadership proves brief, he will be credited with having begun a new era in Japan - as long as the coalition can enact legislation to stamp out corruption, ban political donations by companies and reform the electoral system to reduce politicians' need for huge campaign funds.
Ironically enough, Mr Hosukawa was regarded in his LDP days as a follower of Kakuei Tanaka, ousted as party kingpin in the 1970s in the first of many corruption scandals. Today the LDP is likely to choose as its new leader Yohei Kono, 56, who is regarded as a traitor by many party elders because he briefly defected in protest at Mr Tanaka's behaviour.
Leading article, page 19
- 1 Paul Scholes: Manchester City were so good against Liverpool I felt like turning the television off
- 2 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 3 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
- 4 Homer Simpson takes the ALS ice bucket challenge because of course he does
- 5 Hello Kitty is not a cat after all
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Arizona shooting: Gun instructor accidentally killed by nine-year-old girl with Uzi
YouTube video posted by Isis militants shows 'execution of 250 Syrian soldiers'
Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
Hello Kitty is not a cat after all
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
- < Previous
- Next >
Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...
£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...
£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...