Sunday, August 30, 2009

Live-blogging the 2009 general election #2

1:01am: NHK still has 14 seats left to assign, but I'm going to end the live-blogging now and try to summarize my thoughts before calling it an evening. Thanks to those of you who read through the night, and to those of you who asked questions, which helped focus my thoughts a bit.

12:55am: Shorter Hatoyama: Bureaucrats, your day is done — now begins government by politicians on behalf of the people.

12:50am: NHK has DPJ 302, LDP 115, Komeito 18, JCP 8, SDPJ 5, YP 5, PNP 3, NPJ 1, Others 7. 16 remaining.

12:48am: Hatoyama is beaming as he poses next to the party's board.

12:45am: The result as of now is almost exactly the same as 2005, with twenty-seats to go. DPJ 302, LDP 111.

12:31am: I was asked to comment on the role of the YP. The DPJ certainly would need its five seats, but I wonder why the DPJ might be inclined to give the minor party a cabinet seat to balance the influence of the SDPJ, which, after all, has fewer seats at the moment than the YP.

12:26am: The LDP now has 106 seats, the DPJ 294, Komeito 14, the YP is up to 4 seats.

12:21am: The state of the LDP's faction bosses: Machimura Nobutaka, head of the party's largest faction (before the election), lost, but returns in PR; Koga Makoto survived in Fukuoka; Yamasaki and Ibuki, head of the fourth and fifth largest factions both lost and neither returned via PR; Komura won in Yamaguchi; and Nikai and Aso won. With Tsushima's retirement, that means that the titular heads of half the party's factions are gone. Presumably that will be the final blow to the faction system. After all, considering that in recent years they have been responsible for little more than distributing sub-cabinet posts, what role will they have in an opposition LDP?

12:21am: I just added a post addressing some basic questions about the DPJ.

12:12am: With fifty-three seats to go, the LDP sits at 99, just under 200 fewer than the DPJ's 290. Komeito is at 14, one fewer than the 15 I predicted.

12:10am: Should the DPJ's finance minister-designate — Fujii Hirohisa? — be invited to travel with Yosano (or whoever goes) to the G20 meeting early next month? Not as an official representative, of course, but as part of the process of transferring power?

12:07am: Building on my last question, will the LDP radically transform its internal structures? Without the same connection to the bureaucracy, will the PRC wither? Will it copy the DPJ's institutional innovations and make a more top-down party while in opposition?

12:03am: Will the LDP form a shadow cabinet?

11:56pm: 284 to 98.

11:54pm: NHK has the DPJ at 279 seats. Two more seats and my prediction was too low.

11:45pm: One problem with being as young as I am is that I have only been around to see the LDP in decline. The thought of the LDP losing an election did not faze me, especially after the 2007 upper house election. I recognize that my elders among observers of Japanese politics have been awaiting something like this for decades, only to be disappointed time and time again. As exciting as this night is for me, surely it cannot compare to how they're experiencing it. I've had it easy — so far. Who knows what disappointment awaits in a DPJ government?

11:32pm: DPJ 271, LDP 87. With 90 seats left, presumably the LDP will make it to 100? (Amazing to speak of the LDP struggling to reach 100.)

11:26pm: NHK has fewer than 100 seats left. DPJ 265, LDP 85, Komeito 11, JCP 4, SDPJ and PNP 3 each.

11:18pm: NHK has the DPJ at 261, the LDP at 78, Komeito at 11, and the rest of the parties the same as before.

11:11pm: Fukuda survived.

11:09pm: Anyone going to be sleeping tonight in Kasumigaseki?

11:06pm: A song for the LDP this night: "Yet let's be content, and the times lament, you see the world turn'd upside down." (Yes, I realize that this is second English Civil War reference in as many days.)

11:01pm: Three TV appearances tomorrow. Not sure what to say at the moment except, "Wow."

11:00pm: I just can't get enough images of shell-shocked LDP leaders. All the weeks of headlines about the worries of LDP candidates across the board were justified.

10:57pm: Exit polls found that roughly 30% of self-identified LDP supporters voted for the DPJ in both SMDs and PR.

10:53pm: NHK has 140 seats to go, with the DPJ at 250, LDP at 63, Komeito at 11, JCP, SDPJ, YP at 2, PNP at 3, NPJ at 1, and 6 independent and minor party winners.

10:37pm: Aso has resigned as president of the LDP, but it might be a while before there's a new leader.

10:35pm: Kyuma's defeat is announced, causing a stir in the newsroom.

10:35pm: The DPJ has a nice looking rose garden.

10:32pm: Question about the DPJ's cabinet lineup. The DPJ transition team will meet tomorrow, and we should know the finance minister, the foreign minister, the chief cabinet secretary, and the party secretary-general within a couple of days. As for when the new government will officially begin, that will depend on when the caretaker government convenes a special session to elect a prime minister.

10:29pm: Question about whether the JCP will win any districts. No, it won't. (I don't think the JCP has ever won an SMD.)

10:27pm: Apparently the vaunted Komeito turnout machine failed too.

10:24pm: NHK has the DPJ at 241 seats, an absolutely majority.

10:23pm: It is also worth pausing to consider just how far the DPJ has come in only three years. Consider that just over three years ago there was talk of the DPJ breaking apart in the aftermath of the Horie email scandal. At that point, would anyone have imagined the DPJ winning the upper house in 2007, let alone sweeping the LDP out of power in 2009?

10:19pm: Yoshida's revenge? Yoshida's grandson presides over the tremendous defeat of the party that formed in reaction to Yoshida Shigeru's heavy-handed rule.

10:14pm: "Taihen kibishi." Thanks Aso, we hadn't figured it out yet.

10:13pm: And here's Aso, another LDP leader felled by the DPJ.

10:12pm: Looks like the three DPJ candidates I saw last weekend won.

10:09pm: Wow, Abe Shinzo looks terrible, I mean like he slept in a ditch last night.

10:07pm: Thinking more about Ishihara Nobuteru as Aso's successor.

10:06pm: I was asked what the biggest surprise of the night is. Seriously, the biggest surprise remains no surprises: it is unfolding exactly as the polls predicted.

10:04pm: Noda Seiko lost in Gifu. That's the first time the DPJ has ever won a seat in Gifu under the new electoral system.

Continuing from here...


Joe said...

This is just brutal. My girlfriend asked what the word "trounced" means.

arthurbliss said...

how japanese communist party is doing? i am especially curious if JCP has any chance winning any single riding district (not proportional representation).

I guess koita keiji from the kyoto district 1 has the best chance for the JCP. am i right? thanks!

Nielsen said...

First than you for your great election coverage. Do we have some idea when DPJ will put names on the cabinet ministers? When will the new DPJ government take over?

JMays said...

Anything of interest from Ozawa or Hatoyama tonight?

Graham said...

I know it's local news, but as Japan undergoes a historic transition WBUR news is all still about Senator Kennedy. Hometown patriotism is exhausting.

Izumi said...

So I don't have access to Japanese TV but I'm following the election returns through NHK and, with their awesome flash graphic. Anyway, asahi is calling these victories way faster than any other network I'm aware of. Should I trust this? They have DPJ with 287 and less than 60 seats to call.

K said...

Fantastic. It's great to see that the Japanese have ushered a new government into power. It will be interesting to see how long DPJ will have to prove themselves before the "honeymoon" phase ends. Will there be milestones, akin to the first 100 days for Obama?

snakenuts said...

how young are you tobias?

Anonymous said...

Can you run down the winners and losers of the LDP faction bosses? Any views on how LDP factional politics will emerge following this defeating blow for the LDP?

Soma said...

In principle, I do not see why they should not let Fuiji do so. Legally speaking, what would prohibit him going as Minister, since the DPJ are meeting on Monday to get down to business? Within a week and a half of NZ's recent election the executive warrants had already been handed over to the various ministers by the governor general after calling a special parliamentary session, and the new PM was off to SA for APEC. Is there something in the Japanese electoral rules that differs??

Fintan Hoey said...

Thank you for the excellent coverage Tobias.
Given the enormous success of the DPJ, what's in store for Watanabe Yoshimi, Asao Keiichiro and the 'Minna no To', and what role will they have in the post-election realignment (if one occurs)?

XinJeisan said...

If the LDP wants to survive, it is going to have to change its structure back to how Koizumi style party. Koizumi was able to win the last election on the platform of postal reform (getting rid of people who opposed him even within theparty) by selecting candidates who were successful represented this idea. The DPJ was able to win this election on the platform of government change, and Ozawa chose candidates who could represented this idea, as well. The current electoral system demands that candidates become representative of the the party line. That is the way to win in the current electoral system, and if the LDP in its current form doesn't figure it out, another party will. This will become even more apparent if campaigning laws are loosened to allow more freedom to use the internet and other media to report and campaign.

Although politics has changed in Japan, policy making hasn't yet. Whether there is PARC or not, the bureaucracies still think that policy making is their responsibility. That is going to be the big challenge for the DPJ, as to whether they can put more control of policy making in politicians hands to successfully implement policies that they can claim to be theirs, or the LDP is just going to be able to come back and say, see, i told you so, the DPJ is unresponsible, please return power to us. That will be a simple message, simple campaign to run if the DPJ fails to reform policy making in Japan.

Kiwi Particle Physicist said...

Congrats on a successful night, and thanks for all the hard work you put into the coverage.