Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party has ruled for all but 11 months since 1955, but a stunning electoral defeat cut its representation in the Diet by perhaps hundreds of seats. The victor in all this, Yukio Hatoyama, called it a revolution and promised to take Japan from a corporate state to a welfare state.

Since before World War II, Japan has been in love with and at the mercy of its corporations. The country’s safety net was built on lifelong employment and corporate benefits, until endless recession started putting Japan’s economic miracles out of business and companies were pressured to reform — and fire people.

With horrendous unemployment and economic malaise driving reform, Hatoyama, the man who would be prime minister, has promised to boost welfare and socialize the country. He has said, “I want to create a horizontal society bound by human ties, not a vertically connected society of vested interests.”

Good luck. — PS

Electoral results and analysis here.

BBC profile on Hatoyama:

In his manifesto, Mr Hatoyama said he wanted to improve people’s lives through increased welfare spending.

“I want to approach policy from the perspective of the citizen, not leaving it to the hands of bureaucracy,” he wrote.

“I want to create a horizontal society bound by human ties, not a vertically-connected society of vested interests.”

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