Japan’s victorious DPJ plans coalition with minor parties

Tokyo, Aug 31 (DPA) Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) President Yukio Hatoyama and leaders of two minor opposition parties entered talks to form a coalition government Monday.

The DPJ secured a comfortable majority of 308 of the 480 seats in the House of Representatives election Sunday, ending more than 50 years of nearly uninterrupted rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

“The voters chose to see a change in the government after a long reign of the LDP,” the Yomiuri Shimbun quoted the 62-year-old Hatoyama, who is likely to become Japan’s next prime minister in the election set for mid-September, as saying.

“We would not be too proud to modestly run the government regardless of the number of seats we won,” he added.

The ruling party led by Prime Minister Taro Aso suffered a historic defeat, in which it secured a record low number of seats with many veteran lawmakers losing in their constituencies.

The 68-year-old premier said he was going to resign as LDP leader as he acknowledged responsibility for the defeat.

“We failed to wipe away the public’s dissatisfaction accumulated over the years toward the LDP,” Aso at a press conference early Monday.

Other cabinet members shared his view, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Takeo Kawamura also admitting that “it was a reprimand from the voters for our (LDP) failure to live up to their expectations.”

The Japanese people expressed their dissatisfaction with the LDP Sunday as the party was blamed for widening the income gap, devastated pension programmes and a series of corruption scandals.

The long-ruling party was blamed for the worst recession in post-war Japan, as anxiety weighed heavy on the public.

The incoming DPJ promised voters it would revitalize the world’s second-largest economy by cutting wasteful spending and increasing household incomes to encourage spending.

The party also vowed to raise monthly child allowances, and to scrap both expressway tolls and gasoline taxes as part of its plan to stimulate consumer spending. But it has been criticised for being vague about how to finance its costly economic and social measures.

The Tokyo stock market reacted positively Monday to the change in power, with both indices rising to their intraday high this year. But investors sold shares due to a stronger yen before the end of trading, with the market losing about 0.4 per cent.