The review of the 2012 Japanese General Election
LibDem: Regainning seats without increasing poppular support
On December 26, 2012, Shinzo Abe, the leader of the Japanese Liberal Democratic Party, was appointed the new Prime Minister of Japan after his party's overwhelming victory in the general election. There are several reasons why the LibDem Party won a huge number of the seats in Parliament. Firstly, there is the loss of confidence in Japanese politics which has resulted from the lack of government competence to tackle the number of issues in Japan, such as: prolonged economic recession, the stagnant condition of the victims of Fukushima, and the issue of US military bases in Okinawa. This led to a striking reduction of votes for the party in power (47.4% in 2009 to 22.8% of the total votes in 2012 for the Democratic Party) as well as the electoral turnout (59.32%) which was almost a 10% reduction since the last election in 2009 and the lowest ever since the Second World War.
Secondly, this surplus of voters either ended up refusing to turn out or flowed into the emerging the Japan Restoration Party (won 11.6% of the total votes) as the third force of Japanese political parties. Supporting this analysis, the electoral results showed that both major parties, the Democratic Party and the LibDem Party, faced a decrease in the number of the votes they won (the proportional representation section: 29.8 million in 2009 to 12.2 million in 2012 for Democratic party and 18.8 million in 2009 to 16.6 million in 2012 for LibDem Party).
Thirdly, the media coverage moved away from the nuclear issues before the general election. Despite the historical rise in the anti-nuclear power protests at the Prime Minister's office in summer 2012 which led to a nation-wide movement, the media treated the power struggle between the Japan Restoration Party and the LibDem Party as the top issue in this general election rather than the party policies. In addition, the policies of the LibDem Party on nuclear power remained very ambiguous. According to the LibDem Party's policy handbook, “the party will direct the government decisions on restart of nuclear power plants and with all the power plants, the party will make a decision within three years whether the country will continue or not". Moreover, the Liberal Democratic Party of Fukushima, the Fukushima branch of the party, suggested the abolition of ten nuclear power plants in the prefecture. This is considered a populist strategy in the region where the nuclear policies do not seem to attract the voters. In doing so, the policy agendas of anti-nuclear parties, such as: the Tomorrow Party, the Socialist Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party, have been largely neglected by the general news coverage of mass media.
Quick turn to nuclear policy, LibDem led government
As soon as the LibDem Party recaptured control of the lower house of Parliament, the leader Shinzo Abe said on December 30 that the party would seek to build nuclear reactors. In his first televised interview, he said "With public understanding, we will be building anew". The revival of the LibDem Party's administration may result in the government's determination to establish nuclear policies and reopen the way to numerous restarts of power plants across the country. One year and nine months have passed since the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, 160,000 refugees are still spending hard times in their temporary residences. 300,000 children are still living in the highly radioactive contaminated areas in Fukushima. The seizure of new Prime Minister to nuclear policies reflects the Japanese government's attitude that disregards the interests of these victims. Japanese people need to be questioned once again about what they have ever learnt from the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster.
Taka Honda World Network for Saving Children from Radiation