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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 12:35 GMT
Japan's press sees change ahead
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Koizumi could face more dissent

Japanese dailies are upbeat on the outcome of Sunday's general election, in which the governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) managed to hang onto power despite losses.

Many papers believe the gains made by the opposition Democratic Party (DPJ) will give impetus to the reforms of the ruling coalition.

And they expect that a new rivalry between the two major parties will ultimately work in the country's best interest.

Japan's largest daily, Yomiuri Shimbun, says the result shows Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's reforms received endorsement "to a certain degree".

At the same time, his Liberal Democratic Party's strategy of banking on the popularity of the prime minister "did not pay off as much as originally expected".

Asahi Shimbun, one of three big mass-circulation dailies, says the relatively poor showing of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) suggests there were unexpectedly more voters who "felt the limits" of the party.

Mr Koizumi, the paper says, suffered a clear "setback".

It says the electorate is beginning to realize there are now two major parties in Japan. The Democratic Party should challenge the LDP in the Diet and prepare to take power itself.

"Prospects of change in political power become brighter," the paper says.

Mainichi Shimbun, Japan's third largest paper, agrees.

The political structure appears to be turning towards a two-party system
Daily Yomiuri

"The era of a two-party system has come," it proclaims

It expresses the hope that the election has put an end to the "trial and errors" of the past decade.

At the same time, the paper argues, the result poses a "new test for Koizumi's reforms". The DPJ is now "responsible to see that the LDP realizes its reforms".

The voters will be watching how both the ruling and opposition parties shape up and make an appropriate decision in the next election, the paper says.

A more pro-Koizumi stance is taken by the leading business daily, Nihon Keizai Shimbun.

It says that while the LDP succeeded in "winning the voters' confidence", the Koizumi administration "must fulfil its pledges" - or suffer next time round.

The paper does, however, compliment the DPJ for challenging the LDP and says the creation of a two-party system is indeed coming nearer.

It expects the opposition to "keep on challenging for a change in political power".

Trust

Sankei Shimbun, published by the Fuji Sankei Communications Group, takes the LDP to task for failing to give concrete form to policies in its manifesto.

Ambiguity over postal privatization and pension reform accounted for the party's failures at the ballot box.

The DPJ by contrast fared relatively well, precisely because of its realistic approach to pensions, the paper says.

The Tokyo area paper Tokyo Shimbun in turn cautions the opposition party.

On the one hand the DPJ made "great leaps", the paper says, adding that it was "rare for a single opposition party to win the number of seats it won".

But, the paper warns, the DPJ will lose voter support if it just plays an "irresponsible power game".

The Japanese people, the paper concludes, would be well advised to keep the two major parties "under scrutiny".

The English-language Daily Yomiuri also believes the "political structure appears to be turning towards a two-party system".

While the Democratic Party strategy of projecting a scenario of "two-party confrontation" worked to a degree, it failed to unseat the coalition government.

This, the paper ventures, was because the "framework of a DPJ administration was not clear".

Commenting on the low turnout, the paper says it shows public disillusion with politicians.

Thus, the paper believes, there is a clear need to "restore trust in politics".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.




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