chapter  13
14 Pages

Back to the future

On 30 August 2009 Democratic Party of Japan President Hatoyama Yukio declared his party’s historic victory over the LDP:  ‘Forty days during this summer, I believe that many voters seriously thought about the future. If that is true, the victor in this election and this power shift must be you, the people’. 1 Many scholars as well as media commentators agreed with Hatoyama that the victory signalled the maturity of a two-party political system, a generational shift toward the young, and a shift from bureaucracy-dominated government to a people-centred government as represented by elected political leaders. However, a little over three years later, the LDP was back in power with a more than two-thirds majority in the Lower house. So was Abe Shinzō, the prime minister who had resigned in 2007 with a less than 30 per cent approval rating after less than a year in offi ce and an election that had resulted in the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) winning a majority in the Upper house. At the time of writing this fi nal chapter, the LDP had won another landslide victory, which Abe took as a mandate not only for ‘Abenomics’, but also new security policies, constitutional revision and restarting nuclear power plants. This claim was made despite a record-low voter turnout and the economy’s return to recession in the previous quarter.