Saturday, August 29, 2009

Voters wooed on eve of Japan poll

Voters wooed on eve of Japan poll Candidates across Japan have made their last pitches to voters ahead of Sunday's election, which is expected to herald a rare change of power.

Most polls suggest the ruling LDP will lose to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), amid disaffection about the recession and high unemployment.

The Liberal Democratic Party has ruled for more than 50 years, with just one single break of less than one year.

DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama said that this election could change history. "At last, it is the election tomorrow, one that we will be able to tell the next generation changed Japanese history," Mr Hatoyama told crowds in Sakai in the west of Japan.

The DPJ wants to shift the focus of government from supporting corporations to helping consumers and workers - challenging the status quo that has existed since the end of World War II.


But Taro Aso, the prime minister and leader of the LDP, questioned if the opposition, with little experience of power, could really run the country.

"I beg you to give power to the LDP so we can complete the recovery," he told a rally in Tokyo.
In Oyama, north of Tokyo, he added: "Can you trust these people? It's a problem if you feel uneasy whether they can really run this country."

Many voters are likely to use the election to voice their frustration with the government's handling of the economy during the global recession.

Figures released on Friday showed that the jobless rate was at a record high of 5.7% last month. In July, 3,590,000 Japanese were out of work, over a million more than a year ago.

While its economy grew by 0.9% between April and June, the latest unemployment figures cast doubt on the strength of the recovery.

Eager for change?

Turnout is expected to be high, with roughly 10% of the country's eligible voters expected to cast early ballots.

Some voters simply want to ring the changes after almost a half century of LDP rule.

"The government now is just not effective. I am not sure if the Democratic Party is good or bad, for now I just want change," Kotaro Kobayashi, a 75-year-old in Tokyo, told the Reuters news agency.

In fact, one analyst argued, few voters are paying close attention to the rival parties' policies.

"The election is more about emotions than policies," said Takashi Mikuriya, a professor of political science at Tokyo University.

"Most voters are making the decision not about policies but about whether they are fed up with the ruling party."


Post a Comment