In 2009, the political landscape of Japan changed when the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), a political party founded in 1998 that claimed to be revolutionary and would fight against the status quo, defeated the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
After setting high hopes with the public to shrink government bureaucracy, increase efficiency and move away from the long-time conservative stance of the LDP they disappointed the public by suffering from the same internal bickering that plagued the LDP for so many years. This was highlighted in the aftermath of the March 11th 2011 Tsunami and Earthquake Disaster when the-then Prime Minister Naoto Kan was criticized for his poor leadership and lack of transparency concerning the handling of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster.
In August 2011, Yoshihiko Noda was elected as Japan’s Prime Minster and replaced Naoto Kan who failed to unite and lead the country following the disaster and was forced to resign. As the former country’s Finance Minister Noda was chosen to lead the nation to recovery after the devastating March 11th 2011 Tsunami and Earthquake and to revive Japan’s long-time moribund economy.
Unfortunately, anti-Noda forces within the DPJ lead by Ichiro Ozawa, a skillful behind-the-scenes politician known as the “ Shadow Shogun,” have made it difficult for Noda and his supporters to pass pressing legislation such as joining the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and increasing the consumption tax rate.
More important than these internal divisions was the loss of public support for the DPJ that led to the landslide victory by the LDP in December 16, 2012 general election.The election resulted in 295 LDP and Komei Party legislators wining seats in the Lower House and the return of conservative Shinzo Abe as Prime Minister.
Since the election the public and markets have responded positively to Abe and his cabinet’s strategy of stimulating the economy through setting a target inflation rate, monetary easing and introducing an unprecedented stimulus package to support new public works projects.
But it is still early and unclear how the public will react to the LDP in the long-term.The three major tests for the LDP in 2013 will be the selection of the new governor of the Bank of Japan in April, the Upper House election in July and the decision to increase consumption tax or not next fall.