Could the LDP actually lose control of the Upper house in the upcoming election on July 29? While it isn’t a no-brainer that the Democrats steal the majority from beneath Abe’s feet, it is looking more and more likely the way the latest opinion polls are lining up. For those of you who aren’t on top of the current Japanese political situation, half of the Upper House (参議院, sangiin) is up for re-election later this month. Every three years, half of the house comes up for re-election meaning the average member has a term of 6 years. Because the 2001 election was at the height of Koizumi’s popularism, the LDP (his party) overwhelmed the Democrats (the opposition) by 2:1 (66 vs 32 to be precise). However, by the time 2004 came around, the LDP was losing some of its honeymoon-shine and actually won less seats than the Democrats for the first time in history (49:50). So what does that mean? While the Democrat heavy senators elected in 2004 will not be up for re-election, in order to retain its current control on the Upper House, the LDP will have to stage a battle as good as in 2001.
In fact, if they can’t score 64 seats between them and the Komeito, then the Democrats could easily take control of the Upper House this time around. Now that would be interesting. (Komeito currently has 13 members up for re-election. If you assume that their votes are relatively safe due to their connections “upstairs”, then the LDP needs to win 51+ seats – or two more than they did in 2004!)
Even though we Gaijin can’t vote anyway, I always find it fascinating following the process and asking myself the hypothetical question of who I would vote for if I did have the right to vote (sanseiken, 参政権) in Japan. Finally now (how many decades has it taken?), Japanese politicians are starting to realise that they have to speak about their thoughts on policy and we are seeing more and more manifestos coming from the leading parties. But do you really know what each party is supporting? I found a great website this week that helps you compare your political philosophy with that of the key parties. I highly recommend it. As a long-term hater of the LDP, I was quite surprised to see that I was apparently most closely aligned with the New Party Nippon (Shinto Nippon, 新党日本).
The page has been designed by the creative guys at Mainichi Newspaper who went and surveyed 90% of the candidates standing for election in the upcoming elections. After answering 22 simple questions they compare your Philosophy with each of the parties. It’s pretty fascinating. The biggest drawback (surprise, surprise) is that it is all in Japanese. Because I was desperate to hear what the stippy readership thought of it (why bother asking Japanese friends), I decided to translate the entire question list. I’m not a professional translator so there are probably mistakes galore but if you’ve got a spare 5 minutes then I encourage you to print out the list and click the appropriate numbers for each question. If nothing else, your opinion might be reflected in upcoming Mainichi Newspaper articles, which has got to be a positive. Even if you can’t be bothered with the survey, the list of 22 questions does give you a pretty good idea about the issues that Japanese politicians are debating these days. We’d love to hear your views about them to.
HERE IS THE LINK TO THE ACTUAL SURVEY
To begin click on small green button in the middle that says スタート in white katakana, and go through the survey, while referring to the English questions below if you can’t read the Japanese.
|(1)||What do you think will be the most contentious issue at this election? (choose one)|
|1 foreign policy
2 income disparity
10 power balance between prefectures and the capital
11 pension system
|(2)||(2) It is often said that the number of poor people is increasing. Do you think that the income disparity within Japan is widening?|
|(3)||Select which you think is the best policy for overcoming the ever widening gap in socio-economic groups:|
|1 conversion of part-time workers to full-time
2 increase in the minimum wage
3 greater equality in salaries
4 increased rights for part-time workers
5 Increased vocational training
|(4)||It’s often said that the gap in wealth and lifestyle between the cities and the countryside is increasing. What do you think?|
|1 The government should initiate policy to correct this problem
2 The government should initiate policy to increase the independence of regional economies
3 Such a gap is inevitable
4 There isn’t really such a gap
|(5)||Recently there has been a debate about introducing a “home town tax” where a portion of your local tax would be repatriated to your “home town” in the countryside. What is your view?|
2 Logistically it would be impossible to introduce
|(6)||Do you think the constitution should be revised?|
|(7)||Do you think that article #9 of the constitution should be revised?|
|(8)||Which of the following most well represents your view regarding article #9 of the constitution and Japan’s Self Defense force:|
|1 Constitution should be changed so that the army can be dispatched overseas
2 The constitution should be adjusted to make it very clear that a pure Self-Defense force is acceptable
3 There is no need to change article #9 or the SDF4 There is no need to change article #9 and we should reduce the scale of the SDF
|(9)||Do you think the current constitution permits the exercise of the right of collective self-defense?|
|(10)||Prime Minister Abe hasn’t made it clear if he intends to visit Yasukuni Shrine. What is your view?|
|1 He should make his intentions clear
2 He has no need to publicly state what he will do
|(11)||Do you think that Prime Minister Abe should pay his respects at Yasukuni Shrine?|
|(12)||Which of the following best represents your view toward Japan’s nuclear armament policy?|
|1 Japan should never consider nuclear weapons, now or in the future
2 Depending on what other countries do, maybe Japan should consider it in the future
3 Regardless of what other countries do, Japan should consider it in the future
4 Japan should have nuclear weapons
|(13)||The government is actively trying to expand “ethics education” （道徳教育） in schools and improve children’s respect for society. Do you agree with this?|
|(14)||The Abe Cabinet has placed an emphasis on increasing the standards of education in Japan and as part of the review of the existing “relaxed ( ゆとり) education system” in place, they are considering increasing the length of classes by about 10%. What is your view?|
|(15)||Which is the closest to your view on the planned consumption tax increase|
|1 It should be increased regardless of the planned use of the funds
2 It should be increased but the funds should be dedicated to social welfare
3 I think the current level of 5% is fine
4 It should either be reduced or removed completely
|(16)||The government share of funding for public pensions is set to be increased from 1/3 to ½ in 2009 to fund the gap due to the falling population. How do you think the government should fund this?|
|1 Increase the consumption tax
2 Increase corporate taxes
3 Reduce government expenditure
|(17)||The government is doing its best to retain the current system of public pension funding which makes the existing workforce pay for today’s pensioners. The alternative policy being debated is one where the entire pension is funded from tax revenue. Which do you support?|
|1 Current System that is funded by the current workforce
2 System that is fully funded by tax revenues
|(18)||The most recent G8 summit held in Heiligendamm, Germany, called for a 50% reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050. What is your view?|
2 Agree but the date should be closer
3 Disapprove of numerical targets being set
|(19)||As part of the efforts to reduce corruption amongst politicians, there is a movement to enforce all political fund-raising groups to provide receipts for any expenditure (except personnel) above 50,000 yen. Is 50,000 yen small enough?|
|1 50,000 yen is too high
2 50,000 yen is fine
3 I don’t think they should be forced to provide such evidence.
|(20)||During the most recent sitting of the Diet, the government passed a law to try and solve the problem of Amakudari ( 天下り) where senior public servants receive well-paid jobs in the private sector upon retirement in exchange for political favors. The law involved the establishment of an organization to help them find untainted jobs in other sectors than those which they carried influence on while being bureaucrats. Do you think that this will help solve the problem?|
|(21)||Do you think the decentralization of governmental functions (from Tokyo to the regions) is occurring?|
2 No, there has been too much kick back from the powers that be in the national government
3 Without an obvious body to help fund this it’s no surprise that nothing has happened yet.
|(22)||Click the box on the number of the questions that you thought are the most important issues. (click as many as are relevant)|
|see above 21 questions for reference and after ticking as many boxes as you feel are interesting, then click on the button in the bottom right hand corner saying 進む|
Finally click on your sex (first circle is Male, second one is female) and then chose your age group in the pull down box before clicking on the green button in the middle that says “結果を見る”The displayed table shows the % that your view agrees with each other main political parties. In order from top to bottom:
|自民党||Liberal Democratic Party||http://www.jimin.jp/|
|民主党||Democratic Party of Japan||http://www.dpj.or.jp/|
|共産党||Japan Communist Party||http://www.jcp.or.jp/|
|社民党||Social Democratic Party||http://www.sdp.or.jp/|
|国民新党||The People’s New Party||http://www.kokumin.or.jp/|
|新党日本||New Party Nippon||http://www.love-nippon.com/|
Which party does Mainichi think you support? Did any of the questions above strike you as ridiculous? Help stippy help Japan by giving us your result, and your thoughts on current Japanese policy in the comments below.
28 thoughts on “Japan Upper House Election – Who would you vote for on July 29?”
Thanks for the translations. Having lived outside of Japan for 5 years, my kanji comprehension is definitely a bit rusty!
I ended up aligning most closely with New Party Nippon, to, but it looks like the fact that there are so few members in that party inflate the numbers a bit. For any item where they matched my responses, they got a 100% match score. Shaminto and Kyousanto, and even Minshuto have similar responses, but their numbers are diluted a bit.
Holy shit I’m a communist! (72%) with LDP the lowest match at 29%. Funny cause I always thought 共産党 were annoying when I was living in Japan.
I actually know nothing about the different parties in Japan so I hope to check out those links later.
By the way on the subject of politics an interesting guy is Tsurunen. He’s the first westerner (now Japanese national) to become a member of the Japanese Diet. It was kind of an accident that he got elected, but it’s still cool.
Hmmm… My top three were:
New Komeito 54%
New Party Nippon 49%
Funny thing is that in the USA I’m registered Libertarian–not a position that has much representation in JP.
Thanks too for the translation, the poll was a bit “high literacy” for my reading skill level.
Frankly, I’m amazed that half of these items are really being debated. Without your link to the official Mainichi page, I think I would have doubted you that grown politicians in this country are debating this crap. Of course they should have receipts for how they spend campaign funds. Of course it should be less than 50,000 yen. Of course the whole concept of a “Hello-Work” for high level bureacrats is just ridiculous. Who comes up with these ideas anyway, I guess it is the LDP – that’ll explain why their approval rating is below 40%.
That said, I personally find the debate about ethics education to be a very interesting one – and yes “only in Japan”. I’ve never heard of another country teaching morals and ethics in a school class but that doesn’t necescarily mean that it is wrong. You look at the younger generations of Japan and you start to wonder if they really do need to do something about it – Hell, America probably does to. I’m not sure what the solution is but what is wrong with having a bit more quality education. (To be clear, I’m dead set against increasing the number of classes by 10% but increasing the quality/content is a great concept that I’m fully supportive of)
I did the survey above too (thanks to your translations! I can read Japanese, but would never have bothered to do this if it were in Japanese).
Apparently, if I could vote, I should be voting for:
1. New party Nippon 63% (I had never heard of these people…)
2. Social Democratic Party 62%
3. Democratic Party of Japan 58%
7. Last was Liberal Democratic Party at 39%
It seems that I am an Abe hater too… Which, in fact, I am. Koizumi used to inspire confidence in people, and that is what a leader needs to do. For me, Abe is just a kimoi oyaji, that cant even read a speech properly. He sends shivers down my spine, and none of his words are believable. His presentation of his messages, really sux.
This is pretty cool. My actual response was (unsurprizingly) the DPJ but I decided to give it another burl while pretending to be a short-sighted, right-wing bastard. What do you think the result was?
You got it:
1 LDP (40%)
7 JCP (9%)
I was a little worried that the DPL came so high on the list but the split is order does spell out an interesting trend. It’s quite cool how you can pull up the contents of the result of each question and see how the sitting senators voted. It’s pretty depressing that 94% of LDP senators think that the center for helping bureaucrats get cushy jobs is going to solve any problem at all. I wish I had one of these things to help me before I voted back home…
Daniel, That’s a good point. Thanks for pointing it out. Looking at the website it looks like the key candidate is a novelist, too! Hmmm.
Profile of NPN Leader.
Why not? I guess if you and I were voters then maybe they would have more senators 😉
I guess it makes more sense to just focus on the result for the big two. It would be cool if the site then went to calculate your two party preferred figure based on the preferences of people who participated in the survey. I quietly smiled when I compared my DPJ match (54%) to my LDP (30%) although after reading sotei-guy’s comment above, maybe I should be worried that I came out so high for the LDP!!
Winning the upper house would be huge for the Dems because it would
establish an image of actually being able to win elections. Assuming Ozawa
can hold the party together, it could finally mean the arrival of a
meaningful opposition party in Japan. Now all they need to do is get rid of
the half-arsed proportional representation so that the reds (and socialists
for that matter) and religious nuts get marginalized and stop eating up
votes that could go to the Dems.
To be honest, the policies of the Dems don’t really excite me, but a healthy
opposition is what this country has needed for 50 years. More and more dirt
on the LDP is coming out these days, so hopefully it is a sign that they
can’t get away with everything any more.
Somehow, it all seems to good to be true though. I am almost expecting a
big surprise scandal on the eve of the election that will taint the Dems.
Ozawa naked with another guy maybe?
What I find unusual is that none of us are scoring very high for any of the parties. Highest scores so far are Ao (72% communist) and kaisha-in (63% NPN). Forgot my results, but I think I was about 60% DPJ. I can’t imagine voting for anyone if I didn’t agree with about 80% of what they were saying.
Maybe we’re so far outside the box that we manage to nit-pick every single party and issue in the race, but I don’t think so. I’ve always thought my political views were common sense. Well, partially common sense. Maybe I was right, and Japanese politicians are all a bunch of bullshit artists just trying to get reelected.
I would be interested to see how the parties correlate with standard political views. If anyone gets over 80% for any of the parties please tell us your results and let us know who you would vote for back home. And where home is, obviously.
BTW, if you want to know where you stand on the big issues in the West, try Political Compass (http://www.politicalcompass.org/index).
I think your observation is due to two reasons – or perhaps it is only one reason but we’re seeing two sides of the same coin. It looks as though Mainichi have calculated their results based on a survey of all senators in each party. Quite interestingly, there are lots and lots of questions which don’t have unified answers within each party. (At the end of the survey you can click on the top right hand corner to see the spread of voting within each party). In fact the Communist party probably had the highest rate of consistent answers amongst its party members and so that is probably why Ao had such a high correlation. I hate to break it to Red but the good old NPN only has two people and they still couldn’t organize their responses to be consistent with one another!
Perhaps you could argue that it makes more sense to devise one of these surveys based on the official policy of each party but I guess Japan isn’t quite that developed just yet. That is the second problem – policy is not uniformly supported by all party members and so – particularly at the LDP – you often see party members yapping off to the media about his disapproval of what the Prime Minister has said. Not good. Not good.
To try and get a better idea of what each party stands, I looked up the data relating to the three questions that I have the most interest in. Here are the results:
Who wants to revise article #9 of the constitution:
Everyone else 0%
Who thinks Abe should visit Yasukuni Shrine:
Everyone else 0%
Who thinks the Consumption tax should be raised:
Everyone else 0%
Pretty interesting, don’t you think. Here are my major takeaways:
1) The PNP is obviously preparing itself to get remerged back into the LDP.
2) There is no overlap whatsoever with the policy of LDP and Komeito (other answers were even more all over the place)
3) For better or for worse, there are still a bunch of LDP sympthizers (or should we call them populists) amongst the Democrats.
I have overall 37 to 51 percent, so not really a winner. But highest is Komeito 51% and New Party Nippon with 48. Lowest is Peoples new part with 37%, LDP has also only 41% …
Nothing like a bit of support from your friends:
While the LDP has a two-thirds majority in the more powerful lower chamber, which chooses the prime minister, losing control of the upper house will bring calls to replace Abe as head of the party. “If he loses and his approval rating is below 30 percent, he’ll have to resign immediately,” LDP legislator Takeshi Noda said. (link to article)
Thanks for the interesting article.
Who would I vote for? Good question. Noone. In my opinion, they are all the same, all regular Japanese ossan politicians. Will any one of them make any substantial change to the country? I suspect not. I am very positive on the fact that Japan has a stable democracy, and that people are allowed to vote for who they want in. This is one of the reasons I am happy to be here. Same with my home country, as long as the boring two-party democracy continues, I would be happy to be there also. Who do I vote for there too? Noone. Why, cause they’re all relatively the same. Even in the most severe change, my income may go up or down 10%, extra or less taxes here or there, but in the big scheme of things, things dont really change. If someone was to try to change the political system, I would be the first out to stop it, but otherwise, they can carry on their merry way.
In my view it is seldom domestic politics that really changes things, but more international politics, and external facts. Think terrorism on US (external), the following invasion of Iraq (international politics), or the recent earthquake near Nigata (external), stock market booms and crashes (external?), these are things that materially effect people lives in terms of both basic living, and financial conditions. Will there be any changes as large as these if one or the other of the above politicians gets voted in? I dont think so.
They are all regular ossan politicians because of apathetic voters like yourself, Mr. Beck. There are people (and parties) striving to make a change that would be really good for the country, if only people paid more attention to politics and voted with their brains and not based on who’s name they recognize.
I agree with some of what you say. As long as two boring, corrupt and buyable parties swap control of the government every few years or so there won’t be much change, so you’ll keep living roughly the same lifestyle you are (+/-10%). Also, Japan will keep pissing off China and Korea with creative historical statements, concrete will continue to be poured where it’s not needed, overworked salarymen (and their overworked children) will continue to committ suicide, and of course gaijin will keep getting the short stick rights-wise. Not to mention SDF will take advantage of the hawks in power to keep moving farther and farther away from Article 9.
Democracy does keep crazy dictators like Kim Jong Il out of power, but it doesn’t ensure that the people’s wishes are heard and it doesn’t ensure responsible government. Not until money gets taken out of the equation.
Apathy is not the answer. Too bad we can’t vote though…
I always thought that Abe was weak but after reading this article (and the particularly the commentary from Mr. Mori) I became even more disillusioned about the present state of the LDP. For a bit of fun, I asked one of the Japanese girls at my work if she liked Abe – surely someone out there must! Can you guess what her answer was?
> “So do you mean, do I think he’s handsome?”
Say no more…
Mr. Mori – I think you’ve cottoned on to an interesting point/trend there. Clearly the LDP is way up there in the stakes when it comes to policies that most foreigners would disagree with but the real problem is the 国民新党 (PNP). These guys are more conservative than the conservatives and have been the most vocal oppositions to all of Koizumi’s reforms. (If you ask me the ONLY positive things that have come out of the LDP for a decade are the Koizumi reforms).
Think about what would happen to Japan if the LDP is 1-2 seats short of a majority. They clearly need to turn to someone for support and the PNP is the obvious choice. All of a sudden you are going to see what little was left of Koizumi’s policies watered down more than a cup of osuimono. That would be really bad for Japan.
If the LDP is going to lose lets make sure that it is a real win to the Democrats.
While I don’t have much respect for your choice of a place to live, Hills-zoku, I think you have got a good point about the PNP. They are a scary bunch. Have you looked at their site?
You’ve gotta love that photo of Watanuki holding his Japanese passport. Oh my Buddha!
I had a scroll down the list and tried to spot the people who weren’t over 70 years old. They were clearly desperate to find at least one young female to spruce up the campaign photos. While I’ve got nothing against makeup artists, I’m not sure if this CV is the most suitable for a Senator…
Say no more.
Okay, these are my results:
I don’t like SDP fellows because of their policy on Kim Jong-il’s regime. I don’t know if LDP will lose its majority on Upper House, but I think a real opposition would be healthy, though the DPJ guys…
I did the Political Compass test and these are my results:
Economic Left/Right: -6.88
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.41
which means I’m a Libertarian Leftist…
I agree with Sotey-guy. PNP is quite scary. How can they chose Fujimori as a candidate?
I don’t know about you but I’m voting for Alberto.
The other interesting choice for Tokyo voters is General Tojo’s granddaughter who has campaigned with such classic phrases as “The only thing I think we did wrong in the war was lose.” I suspect that she is going to take a few votes away from the LDP.
Should be exciting stuff come Sunday 🙂
For those of you who don’t know more about the PNP… (I love 5-7)
Election platform of People’s New Party (PNP)
1. Restoration of safety and security
Wholesale reforms of pension system
Healthcare spending on par with other industrialized countries’
Reassurance on jobs, livelihoods
2. Regional revitalization
Develop, promotion of national land plan to correct disparities between local and urban areas
Development of the socioeconomic infrastructure needed for local areas to realize their potential
Increased allocation of resources to local areas
Revitalization of agriculture, forestry, and fisheries
3. Changes in privatization of postal services
Submission of bill to change privatization of postal services, make required changes to maintain three types of postal services under one umbrella
Full use of post office network, requirement that all three types of postal services be provided
4. Balanced development and prosperity
Fiscal stimulus to increase domestic demand, enhancement of overall economic strength
Active use of Fiscal Investment and Loan Program
Increase in domestic consumer purchasing power through temporary tax breaks for small and midsize businesses and income tax relief for those with low to moderate incomes
More progressive taxation of the very rich and those with annual incomes of ¥50mn or more
Special tax measures and overseas transfer tax to increase labor’s share of income
Rollbacks of excessive deregulation, rules for coexistence
5. Education emphasizing discipline and morals
6. Making Japan revered around the world
7. Restoration of parliamentary democracy and the Diet
Source: The People’s New Party
Well, just got back from the polls, and we (well, the wife) voted for Tsurunen (民主党), the gaijin guy. Figured that he is the only one that has a chance of fighting for gaijin rights 🙂
It’s funny you should mention that fucked gaijin, because I was quite surprised to learn the otherday that actually Komeito is pretty gaijin friendly. One of the key items in their “manifesto” is to give voting rights to gaijin with a permanent visa. That’s pretty progressive, I think. In fact many of their policies make sense – it’s a shame that they have such a strong religious colour.
The funny thing was that all of their policies seemed quite at odds with the LDP. How actually has that partnership actually functioned over the years?
I really wanted to vote too, however i could not as a Japanese who has been living here almost 28 years! It was because of the document issue. I moved to Tokyo from Kanagawa a little while ago, but the city offiical sent me a letter of the poll almost 1 month ago when I was living in Kanagawa. So I took the poll card to the election center for people who can not make a vote on 29th, today. But they rejected me, saying that I am not belonged here since I move to Tokyo.
So I asked if I had to make a vote in Tokyo, then they said I can’t because I had to live there for longer than 2 months to gain the right to vote!
Anyway, I hope Minsyuto will gain lots of seats since I don’t want the leader, Ozawa to quit his career now!
Exit Poll is looking good for the good ‘ol democrats. 59 vs. 38 (and 9 for Komei). If the LDP really gets less than 40 then we might be counting days for Abe…
Kensaku san, I feel really sorry for you. It seems really complicated to cast ballots in Japan. No wonder the participation rate is so low!
As a New Zealander living overseas I was surprised how easy it is to cast an absentee ballot. I didn’t bother voting two elections ago (2002) because it was such a pain in the arse to cast a vote from overseas, but the changed the system before the last election (2005). All you have to do is log into the elections site and enter your name, birthdate, and “last residential address,” and then they send you the form by email. Just print it out, place a couple of ticks, and then fax it back to Wellington. You can vote by FAX, for christ sake. It couldn’t be any easier.
I think this helps explain why the voting rate in NZ is about 90%, and the average participation rate in Japan for the last few elections has averaged about 60%. My wife and a few other voting-rights-holder friends I know also didn’t bother voting because of how complicated it is when you register or change addresses. The system definitely needs fixing.
Anyway, good luck, even though you couldn’t vote. It looks like the minshu-to is going to do allright.
Thank you, Yelllow
I was wondering why the online system does not exist here too.
This low participation rate is mostly due to younger generation such 20s to early 30s, they just feel uncomfortable and embarassed going to the crowded site, not knowing how their votes affect future of this country. I think they don’t want to be told, so I think it is better having an online system where you can learn the basic, get some info about candidates and vote with one click. I guess it will increase dramatically, maybe not like in New Zealand, but it will be reaching 60 to 65, taking the broadband availabilty into account.
About this election, one program broadcasted the scene when Abe said with so much stress while making a speech on the street to support their candidates, “The parties make a difference are only Jimintou and Minsyutou!!”. I could not stop laughing for a while haha