Top gun politicians join to form “third force” in Japan’s coming election

11/22/2012
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In an attempt to change the nature of Japan’s politics and form a “third force” to challenge the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ)and the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP), two controversial political figures have join forces. Just a week after ex-Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara formed a new political party, which he dissolved, to merge with Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s Japan Restoration Party.

TOKYO (majirox news) — Two of Japan’s political heavyweights have joined forces to contest next month’s national election. The former Governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, has joined up with charismatic Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, to lead the Japan Restoration Party. Hashimoto will be the deputy leader.

“We will fight together by letting go of small differences,” Ishihara said at a press conference. “If our new party fails to gain power, Japan will sink. We can’t create any good unless we change a political system that’s controlled by the central bureaucracy.”

Ishihara, who is 80 years old, resigned as governor of Tokyo before his term was up, to lead the new conservative Sunrise Party. His nationalist views include the rewriting of Japan’s constitution to allow armed forces and the adoption of nuclear weapons. Among other controversial statements, he has called last year’s disasters “divine punishment” for Japan.

“We want to decentralize the way Japan is governed,” Ishihara said. “We want to move power away from Japan’s capital city of Tokyo to the provinces.”

Ishihara has predicted disaster for Japan if his party fails to gain power. According to the Nikkei newspaper, current support for his party is 15 percent. However, it is growing.

“The Japanese voters are fed up the LDP, DPJ, and they are looking for a third party,” said Takeshi Koyama, professor at Akita University. “But they are no sure that this Restoration Party will do the job because both leaders of the Restoration Party are saying the opposite things.”

Ishihara started as a novelist and writer before entering national politics, and then leaving the Diet to become governor of Tokyo. He is a source of concern for many on account of his nationalist views. His son hold the post of Secretary-General of the main opposition party, the Liberal Democratic Party, against which Ishihara will be fighting in the election.

Hashimoto and Ishihara’s rhetoric appeals to many who are tired of the traditional politics.

“We have a weak economy, and I want this new party to bring back prosperity to Japan, including decentralizing it,” Naoyuki Imura, a manager of a company, said.

The two politicians have different agendas and viewpoints, which detract from their credibility and voter appeal.

“They don’t care about the people, especially those suffering from last year’s disaster, “said Kenji Toyama, an artist in Tokyo. “They are the same as the other parties. I don’t trust them.”

For their joint party to present unified message to the voters, they will have to make compromises on various issues, thereby weakening their appeal as strong principled leaders. And if they join a coalition with the main opposition party, which many analysts say they will, they will have to discard most of the principles for which they currently stand.

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