JAPAN: Abe But No Lincoln

JEREMIAH FAJARDO WRITES – After two decades and a plethora of Prime Ministers, has political stability finally come to Japan with its united Diet?  With the July 21 Upper House elections, Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) seized the second, upper half of the Diet in an acclaimed landslide victory. For some, the triumph signifies a move toward a secure, unfaltering government.

The incumbent Abe may even prov the first Prime Minister since Junichiro Koizumi to endure a full term. But, a largely indifferent populace puts in some doubt unthinking media praise for the win. According to the Mainichi Shimbun, only 52.61 percent of those eligible voted, a 5-point drop from the 2010 elections, though among some voters there was a reported inclination to simply trust in the LDP. Tokyoites interviewed by The Japan Times, the country’s influential English-language daily, asserted that “they were putting their faith in the [LDP]” and Abe’s economic plans.

It seemed like old politics all over again. The much-heralded use of social media during the campaign proved an insignificant factor. Exit polls revealed that only a scant 10 percent of voters used the online services for campaign info. Initially touted as a historic change in Japanese politics, social media usage was a distraction from the campaign’s reality: it was as a model of the past.

Despite the media’s applause, Japan’s nigh perpetual struggle for political continuity is still present. And so far, the use of the social media in campaigns seems to have made little headway – unlike in democracies from South Korea to the U.S.

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