The New Hits the Back of Old’s Head
:The Tokyo Assembly Election
Last July 2, the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election brought about an astounding outcome. The Tomin First no Kai (Tokyo Citizens First party)―Japan’s new unofficial political party―won over the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) by a huge gap of 79 to 23. As a result, LDP lost their position of the ruling party. Why did LDP’s embarrassing defeat happen, and how will this outcome affect Japan and its neighboring countries?
LDP-In and Out of Power
The LDP was founded in 1955 and maintained its power up to 1993. But before long, the LDP retook its power in 1996. The current Japanese government is led by Shinzo Abe and the LDP. Abe and the LDP were together from 2006 to 2007 but he soon resigned from its premiership. On December 2012, Abe was reappointed to the premiership and since then, Abe and the LDP together carried Japan forward for the last four and a half years. The LDP and Abe’s major achievement was Abe-nomics, an economic revolution Abe led. To put an end to the economic stagnation of the last 20 years Japan went through, Abe set the upper limit of the inflation rate to 2%, and carried out an easy money policy. The citizens were supportive of this large reformation of his. Also, the Japanese government led by the LDP had the most radical right movement. However, Japan’s diplomatic stance has grown quite hostile towards China, and surely Korea.
Japan is currently running on the extreme right wing. There are three major speculated reasons for this phenomenon. First, the economic depression they have experienced made them lose their self-confidence, and the contradiction inside their society strengthened Japan’s nationalism. Due to the sense of crisis towards rapidly-growing China, Japan is consciously working to pursue a stronger nation, a stronger Japan. Finally, there is the unliquidated leading forces of the World War II. Since the leading forces of the past World War are still the vested interest forces of the nation, Japan cannot but become conservative. Especially, the extreme right-wingers try to deny their mistakes and faults during the war, by which act they are even threatening Asia and the world peace.
Tomin First Overtaking the LDP’s Position
The new unofficial party Tomin First, as its name implies, puts citizens above anything. The party was founded on January 23, 2017 by Koike Yuriko. Koike was elected as the Tokyo governor even after she was excluded from the LDP. Since this event, she has become widely popular. Despite the lack of any party’s support, she was elected for her bravery and daring reformation policy. Also, the hostility towards Shinzo Abe reigning over four years made the citizens choose Koike over Abe. After Koike became the governor, she started to reject many policies of the LDP and started out on her own way by which she gained her support from the citizens. For instance, Koike delayed the relocation of the Tsukiji fish market that Abe was carrying out, keeping the electorate onside, especially the environment-friendly. In addition, cutting her own wage and reducing the budget of Tokyo Olympics created a sensation among the Japanese.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election turned out unexpectedly because Abe lost too much popularity comparatively. Scandal-hit Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe met crisis with the LDP. Several incidents such as Abe’s scandal with the Moritomo Gakuen school, his rush to change the constitution to justify Japan‘s Self-Defence Forces, and the recent quarrel between his cabinet caused the citizens to turn their backs. Citizens supportive of Abe-nomics began to have doubts on whether it really helped the economy. Abe-nomics, as some insisted, was only helping the firms and not personal investors.
The LDP lost more than half of its seats and ended up with 23 on this election, recording the LDP and Shinzo Abe in shock, since it could be a harbinger for next year’s national elections. The impact of the election is huge for the LDP, since the political affiliation is expected to change. As Tomin First is holding hands with Komeito Party, they will be the leading power of the assembly. Being the ruling party, they would definitely influence Abe’s reformation on the constitution.
The event’s influence towards Korea is yet to be predicted. Koreans might be gloating that Abe’s party is stepping down. However, there is more to consider. Some say that Tomin First is even more on the extreme right side than the LDP. The extreme right power of Japan has been tormenting the Korean government on the issues of “comfort women”, shrine worship and else. Therefore, if the political orientation of Tomin First truly turns out to be the right side, it would definitely not be favorable to the Korean government. For instance, Koike had claimed that Korea is illegally occupying Takeshima. Furthermore, Koike insisted that nuclear armament should be allowed according to the military and diplomatic judgement. She also is on the side of justifying the shrine worship. It can be inferred that Koike and the Tomin First are on the conservative line, advocating nationalism.
We would have to take notice and see the progress of the next year’s national election, but it is possible that Japan is to free itself from the long-term governance from the LDP and Abe. Very recently, after Tomin First won the election, Koike resigned from the leader’s position, which could imply that she is preparing for the national election. Japan may have its first female prime minister. The Japanese seem to be excited about the changes to come, but from our stance, we cannot stop at hoping Abe to step down. Some even worry that we may have a harder time communicating with the Japanese government. True to many’s expectations, if the new government sets foot, the Moon government would have to set up a new relation between the Koike’s new government, whether hostile or alleviated.
Jang Moon-kyong (Int’&Social reporter)