08/31/2009, 00.00
JAPAN
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Tokyo, “revolution” of democratic victory, to counter many difficulties

A “bloodless revolution”, the Democratic Party on course to win 308 seats out of 480. Taro Aso, the outgoing prime minister, admits defeat. Child support, free schools and cuts in bureaucracy are the promises to keep, while the country ages rapidly and is immersed in the economic crisis. The Tokyo Stock Exchange responds positively.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has won the elections putting an end to the government of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) after nearly 50 years of unchallenged domination. The national media forecasts show the DPJ gained at least 308 of the 480 seats in parliament, leaving 119 for the LDP, reversing the results of the last elections in 2005.

Once the Democrats victory was clear, the stock exchange rose by 1, 5%. Outgoing Prime Minister Taro Aso has conceded defeat and decided to resign from the party. The future prime minister will probably be the leader of the DPJ, Yukio Hatoyama.  

Tomoaki Iwai, a professor of political science at Nihon University in Tokyo, told Bloomberg: "This is a bloodless revolution, the first transfer of power from one party to another in postwar Japan." "The DPJ - he added - must now face the daunting task of keeping its promises and show the Japanese public that it can change the system."

Hatoyama has in fact promised to revive the economy currently in deep recession - the worst since World War II – support spending for households and children, cut taxes and reduce the power of bureaucrats.  

The most burning issues facing the nation is its rapidly ageing population and the consequent reduction in the active workforce and increase in welfare costs, as well as massive public spending. For the first, Hatoyama has promised 320 dollars per month for each child; schools free until high school level and higher wages. This should also stimulate domestic consumption, easing the economic crisis and the collapse of exports. For the second problem, Hatoyama is pondering a reform of the bureaucracy, streamlining and submitting it to political control.

On foreign policy, the DPJ plans to create a new diplomacy less dependent on the U.S., seeking instead to strengthen ties with Asian countries.  

Hatoyama, 62, is part of a dynasty of politicians. In '95 he left the LDP and began his climb in the DPJ. His great-grandfather Ichiro founded the LDP in 1955. His great-grandfather was also president of parliament and his father was foreign minister. His younger brother, Kunio is a member of the DPJ, re-elected yesterday. But only one month ago he belonged to the LDP.

Of the 308 deputies elected in the DPJ, 268 are men, 40 are women. 69% of the 104 million eligible voters participated in the elections. Turn out for the last elections was 67.5%. 

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