September 11, 2005


Exit polls point to Koizumi win,/a> (BBC Asia, 9/11/05)

Early TV exit polls suggest Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is headed for an overwhelming victory in Japan's general election.

Mr Koizumi called the snap ballot after parliament blocked plans to privatise Japan's post office - the centrepiece of his economic reform proposals.

Exit polls suggest his party may be set to rule without a coalition partner for the first time in 15 years.

Turnout is expected to surpass the 60% of the last general elections in 2003.

A great showing for Mr. Koizunmi, but an abysmal one for both Japan's Democratic Party and al Qaeda, which once again proved itself unable to impact the historic re-election of a leader of the Axis of Good.

Japanese Voters Hand Prime Minister's Party Large Victory (Anthony Faiola, September 11, 2005, Washington Post)

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ruling party won a landslide victory in Sunday's general elections as voters handed Japan's maverick leader a remarkablemandate to enact a new stage of broad reforms in the world's second largest economy.

The larger-than-expected triumph capped a bold gambit by the 63-year-old Koizumi, who had put his job on the line in search of fresh public backing for his agenda of economic reform, particularly the privatization of the $3 trillion postal service, as well as his vision for a stronger Japan more closely aligned with the United States.

His reshaped Liberal Democratic Party -- minus anti-reform hard-liners kicked out of the party in a landmark purge by Koizumi last month -- won at least 276 seats, its largest majority in the 480-seat lower house of parliament since 1990. It was a gain of 32 seats for the party, and its final seat total could perhaps exceed 300. The LDP's smaller coalition partner, the Buddhist-led New Komeito, was set to bring at least another 28 seats to Koizumi's side.

The big loser was the opposition Democratic Party, which had hoped to seize power from Koizumi and had called for a pull out of Japan's non-combat troops from Iraq along with a withdrawal of U.S. Marines from Okinawa. Instead, it appeared set to lose dozens of its 177 seats.

While seen as a boon for Japan's halting reform effort, Koizumi's new mandate is likely to continue a time of high tension in East Asia -- particularly with neighboring China.

The moment at which the Chinese are rattling their sabre seems an odd one to propose ending your alliance with America.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 11, 2005 8:00 AM
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