Campaigning for the House of Councillors Election to be held on July 29 began across Japan yesterday.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lead by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and its New Komeito Party allies are under increasing pressure from the opposition Democratic Party of Japan and its partners lead by veteran schemer Ichiro Ozawa.
Government approval ratings have slumped to new lows since Abe took office in the autumn of 2006 - due largely to bureaucratic bungling by the now tainted Social Insurance Agency (SIA) which administered Japan's pension system and accusations of corruption against former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka, who committed suicide before the scandal broke and further suspicions of graft against his successor Norihiko Akagi.
The key issue in the election is the pension scandal in which the details of 50 million Japanese pension files have gone missing, meaning that 20 million people who spent their lives paying in to the scheme cannot now trace those payments.
Abe came to power promising to recast Japan as a "beautiful country" revamping the post-war constitution and Japan's education system in the process. A defeat in the upper house elections, however, would probably lead to the LDP heirarchy ditching Abe in favor of a more pragmatic figurehead.
The blurb on the poster next to the 'cool biz'-clad Abe reads:
"For Growth You Can Really Feel!"
"Seeing restructuring through - towards a beautiful country: the Liberal Democratic Party".
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Japan Shinzo Abe Japanese Politics LDP Ichiro Ozawa
Friday, July 13, 2007