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Monday, Aug. 31, 2009

Voters, fed up with LDP, say it's time for change


By NATSUKO FUKUE and MARIKO KATO
Staff writers

As the Democratic Party of Japan's stunning victory and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's resounding defeat was reported Sunday night, many voters on the streets of Tokyo said they savored their chance to vote for change.

At Ueno Station, a 60-year-old employee from Saitama who said his surname was Tsuchiya said he voted for a DPJ candidate because he thought the LDP was in power too long.

Tsuchiya said he wanted the LDP out because it "made life difficult for salaried workers." In previous elections, he had voted LDP.

Tsuchiya, however, isn't putting full faith in the DPJ's platform and said its promise to pay out ¥26,000 per child each month didn't seem fair to all taxpayers. He also said the plan to abolish highway tolls wasn't appealing either.

"But I'm looking forward to how DPJ will change the way politicians deal with bureaucrats, as I'm fed up with how cozy they were" when the LDP was in power, he said.

For the proportional representation section, Tsuchiya said he voted for the fledgling Your Party because he sympathized with its policy platform.

A fortysomething violinist from Bunkyo Ward said she voted for the DPJ's single-seat candidate because she wanted a change in government.

"I really would like for them to show us a better future," she said, adding that she wanted improved nursing insurance for the elderly.

While many voters expressed high expectations for change, some were equally skeptical about the DPJ.

A 53-year-old employee from Shibuya Ward said he was shocked that the DPJ looked set to win more than the 300 seats projected.

"The DPJ kept shouting that a change in government was necessary, but the content of their platform wasn't very realistic," he said.

The man, who voted LDP, said he really wants the economy to improve because his bonus was cut.

"I didn't want to vote for the DPJ because they have never experienced running the government," he said, adding he doubts the DPJ can improve the economy.

A 26-year-old man also from Saitama who gave his family name as Yokoyama said he voted LDP for both the single- and proportional-representation seats because he liked Aso's speaking style.

"I really liked Prime Minister Taro Aso because he talked to young people about politics in plain words," he said.

In previous elections, Yokoyama said he never supported a particular party and voted without much consideration. This time was different, he said, because it was the first time he had bothered to do any research and actually think about the issues before voting Sunday.

"I feel that the media were playing up the DPJ too much by focusing on particular candidates and issues," he said. "But whether the LDP or DPJ is in power, I doubt whether politics will change greatly."

As long as the DPJ is going to take power, however, Yokoyama said he expected the DPJ to use the budget to help children, not just the elderly.

Near JR Shibuya Station, a 28-year-old graphic designer from Nakano Ward said he was not particular happy the DPJ won by a landslide despite voting for the DPJ's single-seat candidate.

"Too much power to one party is not good," he said, adding that he voted for the Social Democratic Party for the proportional seats.

A 37-year-old employee from Shibuya Ward said since he voted for the DPJ in both the single-seat and proportional-representation seats, he was glad to hear it was a major victory.

"I'm hoping for a cleaner politics and better-behaved politicians," the man said, adding that he expects the DPJ to do its best to shift power from the bureaucrats to politicians.

A 22-year-old college student from Setagawa Ward said she cast her two votes for the DPJ but still wasn't sure what to expect on election night.

"I'm probably looking at history, but I can't appreciate it as a reality," she said.


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