Taro Aso, the hapless and gaff-prone Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Prime Minister has called a snap election for August 30 following his party's resounding defeat in local Tokyo elections on Sunday.
The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won 54 seats to the LDP's 34.
Aso is the 4th Prime Minister since the last general election in 2005 following Junichiro Koizumi, Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda.
The choice awaiting the Japanese electorate in August is between two conservative parties with similar agendas and backgrounds. One political commentator has likened Aso and his opponent, DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama, to "Tweedledee and Tweedledum."
Both are aged, wealthy scions of political dynasties, but with Aso's popularity ratings hovering around the 20% mark, it seems the Japanese public are ready to to give Tweedledum a chance this time around.
Yukio Hatoyama replaced Ichiro Ozawa as leader of the DPJ earlier this year, after the latter became embroiled in a financing scandal.
Hatoyama, like Aso, is a super-rich, blue-blooded, hereditary politician and likewise a grandson of a former conservative party prime minister.
A graduate of Tokyo University, Hatoyama's grandfather Ichiro Hatoyama was a hawkish prime minister in the 1950s, Hatoyama's father Iichiro Hatoyama was Japan's foreign minister for a period in the 1970s. His brother Kunio Hatoyama is a leading LDP politician. Plus ça change.
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Monday, July 13, 2009