Japan sees historic political change, Yukio Hatoyama elected PM (Lead)September 16th, 2009 - 2:07 pm ICT by IANS
Tokyo, Sep 16 (DPA) One-time opposition leader Yukio Hatoyama was elected Japan’s prime minister Wednesday by parliament, ushering in a sea change in Japanese politics.
Both chambers of the Diet selected the 62-year-old self-proclaimed reformer after his Democratic Party of Japan won a landslide victory in Aug 30 parliamentary elections, trouncing the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which had governed nearly uninterrupted for more than 50 years.
Hatoyama, who was expected to introduce his cabinet later Wednesday, faces a difficult road ahead as Japan seeks to emerge from its worst recession in the postwar era. His party — which was founded in 1998 by LDP defectors, social democrats and former union leaders — has no experience in governing but must do with a powerful bureaucracy, which ruled Japan hand-in-hand with the LDP.
Hatoyama’s family, however, has had much experience in government. He is the grandson of a prime minister, the son of a foreign minister and the brother of an interior minister, who is a member of the LDP.
Hatoyama’s rise to the highest office in the land came after his DPJ secured a majority of 308 seats in the 480-member House of Representatives, the lower but more powerful chamber of the Diet, in last month’s election. It had already won a majority with its coalition partners in the House of Councillors in 2007 elections.
The win pushed the LDP out of office after it had governed for all but 10 months since 1955.
The DPJ’s win came from intense public discontent with the LDP and prime minister Taro Aso’s government, its handling of the recession, its perceived weakness, a series of scandals that rocked the party and its failure to address domestic concerns, such as Japan’s strained pension system and its ageing, shrinking population.
Hatoyama has set his priorities as wresting influence for politicians away from Japan’s bureaucracy and revitalising the world’s second-largest economy.
He said he plans to do that by increasing household incomes, encouraging spending and cutting LDP outlays he considers wasteful. Those spending cuts, he said, would pay for his new measures and avoid imposing a burden on citizens to pay back the national debt, which, at about 800 trillion yen ($8.5 trillion), exceeds 160 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product.
He has also pledged to make cuts in Japan’s emissions of greenhouse gases amounting to 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. His goal compares with an eight percent cut envisioned within the same timeframe by the LDP.
Hatoyama’s cabinet is to include members of his coalition partners, the Social Democratic Party and the People’s New Party.
His foreign minister was expected to be Katsuya Okada, 56, secretary general of the DPJ.
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Tags: coalition partners, defectors, domestic concerns, dpj, interior minister, japan hand, japanese politics, landslide victory, ldp, liberal democratic party, opposition leader, parliamentary elections, pension system, public discontent, sea change, shrinking population, social democrats, taro aso, union leaders, yukio