Sunday, February 25, 2018

Conservative party favored as Japanese vote

TOKYO — Japanese voted today in parliamentary elections that were expected to put the once-dominant conservatives back in power after a three-year break — and bring in a more nationalistic government amid tensions with big neighbor China.

Major newspapers were predicting the Liberal Democratic Party, led by the hawkish former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, would win a majority of the seats in the 480-seat lower house of parliament, although surveys also showed that many voters remained undecided just days before the election.

Voters have soured on the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which won a landslide victory in 2009 but could not deliver on a string of campaign pledges. Voters are also upset over Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's push to double the sales tax, a move he argues is necessary to meet rising social security costs as the nation rapidly grays.

Disillusionment with politics is running high in Japan, as is confusion over a hodgepodge of small, new parties that have sprung up in recent months espousing a variety of views.

Toshiyuki Kataoka, a 67-year-old retiree from Chiba, east of Tokyo, said that the Democrats proved to be novices running the country. "It was someone driving on a learner's permit," he said. But he added that he's willing to support them again because he's worried about the nationalistic influence of the LDP.

"The LDP ruled for many years, and you can't expect the Democrats to fix everything in three years," he said.

But not many Japanese were likely to be as forgiving as Kataoka.

With Japan stuck in a two-decade economic slump and pressured by an increasingly assertive China, voters may be turning back to the LDP, which guided the country for most of the post-World War II era, after taking a chance on the Democrats and being let down. The DPJ failed to carry out numerous promises, including cash handouts to families with children, eradicating wasteful spending and moving a controversial U.S. military base off of the southern island of Okinawa.

The country must also cope with an aging, shrinking population, a bulging national debt and intensifying competition from Asian neighbors such as South Korea, Taiwan and China.

"This election is about punishing the DPJ," said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Sophia University, suggesting the LDP's appeal may be its "brand image" as the "perpetual, natural party in power."

"It seems to me that people are driven by nostalgia," he said.

Comments

Indians sign RHP Belisle to minor deal with camp invite

The Cleveland Indians signed veteran reliever Matt Belisle to a minor league contract with a spring training invitation
Updated: 4 minutes ago

AP Top News at 1:05 p.m. EST

AP Top News at 1:05 p.m. EST
Updated: 8 minutes ago
Congress has ideas on gun violence, but no consensus

Congress has ideas on gun violence, but no consensus

Members of Congress are returning to work after a 10-day break, and they're under great pressure to respond to the outcry over gun violence, but there seems to be no consensus
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Juventus-Atalanta Serie A game postponed due to snow

Juventus-Atalanta Serie A game postponed due to snow

Snowfall has led to the postponement of the Serie A match between six-time defending champion Juventus and Atalanta
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Fla. sheriff says only 1 deputy was on scene during shooting

Fla. sheriff says only 1 deputy was on scene during shooting

The head of the Broward County Sheriff's Office says only one of his deputies was on the scene of a shooting at a Florida high school that resulted in 17 deaths
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Q&A: What the battle of memos on FBI surveillance showed

Q&A: What the battle of memos on FBI surveillance showed

Questions and answers about what was learned from the battle of classified memos on the Russia investigation and why it matters
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Germany's Merkel to put ambitious critic in new Cabinet

Germany's Merkel to put ambitious critic in new Cabinet

Chancellor Angela Merkel is preparing to name her ministerial team for a new German government, amid reports that she plans to promote an ambitious conservative critic
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Milinkovic-Savic nets 2 in Lazio win; Juve game snowed out

Milinkovic-Savic nets 2 in Lazio win; Juve game snowed out

Sergej Milinkovic-Savic showed just why some of Europe's top clubs are after him with two goals as Lazio strolled to a 3-0 win at Sassuolo in Serie A
Updated: 18 minutes ago

Federal team investigating deadly Dallas house explosion

Federal authorities are investigating a suspected natural gas leak that caused an explosion a newly renovated house in Dallas, killing a 12-year-old girl and injuring four other members of her family
Updated: 21 minutes ago
Hard Rock casino to flood Atlantic City with live music

Hard Rock casino to flood Atlantic City with live music

Atlantic City's newest casino promises to flood the city with live music
Updated: 22 minutes ago