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Page last updated at 08:19 GMT, Saturday, 29 August 2009 09:19 UK

Japan election: Voters' views

Japan's 30 August general election could overturn a political status quo that has existed for five decades.

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has ruled for more than 50 years with the exception of a break of less than a year, but it is now trailing the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in opinion polls.

Here, five Japanese voters discuss the issues that are important to them and whether a change of power would be good for their country.

Masato Nakahara, 49, Project manager, Tokyo

This election is more important for our economic and industrial reform than previous ones, when the LDP was stable and had the majority of the votes. A regime change from the LDP to the DPJ would be a turning point for Japan.
Masato Nakahara

Although the DPJ provide a fresh hope, concerns remain whether they could carry out their plans, because they don't have experience as leaders of the country.

We invest big money from our taxes into politicians every year and it is very important right now that our political representatives start thinking that they must work for their customers - the taxpayers.

The promises and commitments they vowed before the election need to be carried out.

Tax reduction and subsidies are benefits that are easily understood and appreciated by taxpayers who are not particularly interested in politics. But these short-term stimulus packages will not be beneficial to the economy, because unemployment rates are still high and companies continue to go bankrupt.

I am going to vote for the DPJ. Many of the past leaders from the LDP haven't been able to address the political issues from the point of view of the ordinary citizens. I think it's important that our politicians bridge the gap between politics and the people.


Kikuchi Daijiro, 20, college student, Oita
Kikuchi Daijiro

This election is not just about choosing a party but choosing a leader fit to be Japan's prime minister.

The best words to describe what the public in Japan thinks about the party leaders are 'dissatisfaction' for Taro Aso from the LDP and 'misgivings' for Yukio Hatoyama from the DPJ.

It is believed that the DPJ will come to power. I strongly feel that people will vote for DPJ out of necessity because there's been too much negative press for Taro Aso.

I will vote for LDP mainly because Taro Aso played a great role during the G20 to tackle the worldwide recession. The DPJ manifesto is full of haphazard thoughts and I don't see any charisma from Yukio Hatoyama during their debates.

If Yukio Hatoyama becomes Japan's prime minister, I would like him to be more consistent and carry out his words. The best thing about this election is that people show much more interest in politics than during the previous elections. And having an interest in politics is the first step to building a good country.


Misako Noguchi, 36, unemployed technical writer, Saitama
Misako Noguchi

This election is very important for Japanese people who are struggling to survive during the recession. Mr. Hatoyama, who I guess will be elected, has made promises that are ideal.

According to those promises each child will receive $260 (£160) a month. All highways will be free. The minimum pension will be $700.

This is very generous and makes people feel comfortable. But we need a leader who can carry out promises in reality. Hatoyama's party is yet to show where they'll get the money from in order to fulfil those promises.

They are not going to raise consumer tax while they plan to reduce corporate tax. Where will the money come from? We cannot rely on the bond-dependent budget any more.

We need a change from the bottom in Kasumigaseki [government district]. Otherwise, our country is going to sink like an old ship
Misako Noguchi

That's why I don't know yet who I will vote for. I am still thinking.

The most important issue for me is pensions as ours is an ageing society. The government has lost in the stock market some of the money for pensions and now it is struggling to compensate for that. We are very anxious about it. That's why many young people don't invest in pensions.

Another issue I feel strongly about is the hereditary succession in politics. Mr Hatoyama is not an exception. We need a change from the bottom in Kasumigaseki (the Tokyo neighbourhood which houses most of the national government). Otherwise, our country is going to sink like an old ship.


Jun Morikawa, 32, recent graduate, Kyoto
Jun Morikawa

I think this election is very important because it could significantly change the Japanese political landscape.

It could be the end not only to the Aso government but also to the LDP rule, which has been predominant in the country over the past half century.

I have not decided yet who to vote for. I will probably vote for Hatoyama's DPJ simply because I am tired of LDP politics. I think Japanese politics need some dynamic changes.

The biggest problem we have is the economy, as it affects every segment of our society. Unemployment is increasing and there are so many laid-off temporary workers. There are growing uncertainties for the near future and the vicious circle won't end until the economy gets back in good shape.

There are so many young people categorised as NEET (not in education, employment or training) who make no contributions to the society.

This is particularly worrisome in Japan today as its population is rapidly ageing and national birth-rate is at a record low. Without some kind of effective family support from the government, people can not afford to have more children.

I would like to see a new Japanese government that will revive the economy and create more job opportunities. I want the new government to listen to every segment of the society and help the weak out of their predicament.


Hiromi Tajima, 39, housewife, Tochigi prefecture

Our harmonious society seems to be one the edge of a cliff nowadays. Our economy and our personal wellbeing are at stake. How can we make money and how can we effectively use them to improve the lives of the people? How can we pay back the debt?

I am out of work and so are my siblings. We need more support, both economically and socially. It's very hard for me to deal with our situation right now.

My hope for this election is that people in Japan will start feeling better about their lives
Hiromi Tajima

I've always voted for the Japan Communist Party (JCP), even though they are unlikely to win. I've always supported them because of their policy for the weak and for me, social welfare is very important.

In my constituency, there is no candidate from the Japan Communist Party that I'd like to support. So I am voting for the DPJ cadidate in the minor electoral system, just because I actually saw him by chance and the impression was good. I will chose the JCP in the proportional representation system.

Someone I met recently the other day said that he often wishes that he were a strong machine that feels nothing at all. This is a sad comment and my hope for this election is that people in Japan will start feeling better about their lives.




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