Japan Election Turns Start-Up Party into Major Political Player

Japan Election Turns Start-Up Party into Major Political Player

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's political future is already on shaky ground following his first election since taking office a month ago. His Democratic Party of Japan took a severe blow in Sunday's Upper House elections, with voters turning once again to the country's longstanding political hegemon, the Liberal Democratic Party.

Still, the biggest surprise in yesterday's voting was the strong showing of the start-up Your Party, indicating that while much of the Japanese electorate is yearning for change and strong leadership, their faith in the two major political parties is fast dwindling. Judging from the reaction of financial markets, the latest results have done little to bolster investors' confidence in Japan's ability to weather ongoing challenges in the global economy, particularly with the possibility of a double-dip recession looming.

While the DPJ has stated that Kan will continue to serve as its leader and head the ruling coalition government, there is growing speculation that his days are numbered, as the party lost control of the Upper House to the LDP. Instead of holding on to the 54 seats it had before the elections, the party won just 44, while the LDP increased its holding to 51 seats to become the largest party. Nothing was as surprising, though, as the popularity of Your Party, known in Japanese as Minna no To. Led by Yoshimi Watanabe, formerly a major LDP player, the party won 10 seats in its first Upper House elections. Half of the 242 seats in the chamber were up for grabs Sunday.

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