Every now and again some kind of significant political event happens in Japan, I read about it, and am reminded that I don’t understand Japanese politics at all. The same party, it seems, always wins. And that party is called the Liberal Democratic Party. And then there’s the opposition Democratic Party which was formed from a merger of the old Democratic Party and the old Liberal Party. They couldn’t, it seems, just call the merged party the Liberal Democratic Party because that was already the name of the other party — the one that always wins.
And, as best as I can tell, neither party has any actual ideology; both are comprised of competing factions with widely varied agendas. There’s also this smaller New Komeito Party which does seem to have an ideology, namely pacificism, and which is in coalition with the ruling LDP even though the current LDP Prime Minister has taken a lot of steps toward remilitarization. I even took a class in college that was supposed to be on modern Japan, but where the professor somewhat mysteriously stopped talking about political events once we got to the post-MacArthur period, though he did specifically note that it was “confusing.” So, all that said, the implication of this election result would seem to be a setback for the Japanese remilitarization that the Bush administration has been trying to encourage.