Monday, September 12, 2005

LDP landslide

Over in Japan, Junichiro Koizumi's LDP has just won a massive victory, one of the biggest in decades of LDP rule. Oddly enough, the leader of one of the most powerful political dynasties in the democratic world won it by being a "rebel", supposedly against the forces trying to stop him from privatizing Japan Post.

(Which is, by the by, not about postal delivery, but about something like 3 trillion dollars in assets- the post office serves as a kind of public bank, and a lot of people in Japan employ it as a safe and conservative investment. While understandable, Japan's predilection for safe and conservative investment is one of the reasons why the country is having problems in the first place.

The key question for me is what this says about foreign policy. This election was not fought on foreign policy, but the enormous win is going to embolden the LDP to seek "normalization" of Japan's foreign policy (read: move away from pacifism), and Koizumi's controversial visits to the Yasukuni war shrine are clearly not ending anytime soon.

While this election may be a good thing for the Japanese economy, I do wonder whether or not it will increase the tensions between Japan and China. Hu Jintao is a pragmatist, so I expect that he'll read the situation correctly and understand that this isn't a full-out endorsement of the controversial normalization process...but not everybody in China is going to see it this way, and they're pretty paranoid about Japanese militarization.

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