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Us Closely Watching Pivotal Japanese Elections

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US closely watching pivotal Japanese elections

WASHINGTON – A projected landslide victory this weekend for Japan's opposition party could introduce new uncertainty into a relationship the United States has long relied on to anchor its security interests in Asia.

The Obama administration will be watching closely how the Democratic Party of Japan, or DPJ, will govern should it gain power after Sunday's election.

Opposition leader Yukio Hatoyama, who probably would become prime minister, has pushed for his country to be more independent from Washington and closer to Asia. The DPJ has questioned a major realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, close ties with the United States and continuing Japan's refueling mission in the Indian Ocean in support of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

"As a result of the failure of the Iraq war and the financial crisis, the era of U.S.-led globalism is coming to an end," Hatoyama wrote this week in The New York Times. But he also predicted that the United States, though declining in influence, "will remain the world's leading military and economic power for the next two to three decades."

While a DPJ victory could cause new tensions with Washington, it would be unlikely to destroy the foundation of an alliance forged after Japan's defeat in World War II. Hatoyama also has said that he would not seek radical change in Japan's foreign policy, and the U.S.-Japan alliance would "continue to be the cornerstone of Japanese diplomatic policy."

The United States is Japan's military protector in a dangerous region, with more than 50,000 troops stationed in the country, and its biggest trading partner. Also, the rhetoric of an opposition party fighting to oust an incumbent from power often changes when that party is faced with the realities of governing.

"It was one thing for the opposition party to take opportunistic partisan shots at the government for supporting the United States in the war on terror or paying for U.S. bases, but it is quite another to put the alliance at risk when in power," Michael Green, a White House Asia adviser during the George W. Bush administration, said in an interview posted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, where he is an analyst.

But he said a DPJ victory could cause confusion in Washington and Tokyo "as the DPJ decides what it actually stands for in power." He said the Obama administration and others will, for the time being, be left in the dark about whether the DPJ will "fundamentally realign Japanese politics."

That could cause headaches for the Obama administration as it confronts China's increasing military presence in the region and a tense nuclear standoff with North Korea.

An opposition victory would allow the DPJ to unseat the Liberal Democrats, who have governed Japan since 1955, with the exception of one period of less than a year in 1993-1994.

The DPJ made its name accusing the ruling party of giving in too easily to U.S. officials.

Bruce Klingner, an Asia specialist at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, said in a recent essay that a DPJ victory could throw Japan's security policies into turmoil.

Even the DPJ's own lawmakers, he said, are uncertain about what direction Japan would take should their party win power. Some DPJ conservatives want close military ties with the United States; another faction wants a more independent role for Japanese forces.

However, Klingner said, "the ascendancy of the DPJ may have significant and detrimental effects on the bilateral alliance and U.S. security objectives in Asia."

Support for Japan's governing party has plummeted because of the fragile economy, increasing unemployment, a perceived lack of leadership and its support of higher taxes.

The US already has a massive military presence in Okinawa and mainland Japan. Will we see some hard nosed diplomacy by the Yanks? Will this just open up the East to more foreign investment and broad based policy? Or will we see this new power base in Japan start to disinvest itself out of American interests?

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So we have the Democrats vs the Liberal Democrats - no wonder the Democrats in Washington are confused about who to back.

Does Japan not have a 'we are not democratic party'. :lol:

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So we have the Democrats vs the Liberal Democrats - no wonder the Democrats in Washington are confused about who to back.

Does Japan not have a 'we are not democratic party'. :lol:

Not all democratic parties are the same.

Just look at DPRK...

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I'm cheering for the opposition as a statement I read of their's said they want to try demand side recovery. Whereas the party in power seems to be trying the old export their way out model.

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Surely this new government will be less inclined to increase their dollar reserves than the LDP? Surely this is also a big issue?

They will only buy ¥ denominated treasuries.

I see trouble ahead! :lol:

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They will only buy ¥ denominated treasuries.

I see trouble ahead! :lol:

And sell their current holdings? The last I heard they had about $1 trillion about a year ago, compared to the Chinese with $1.5 trillion.

In our strange new world $1 trillion ain't all that......

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I'm cheering for the opposition as a statement I read of their's said they want to try demand side recovery. Whereas the party in power seems to be trying the old export their way out model.

Demand side is exactly what Japan needs.

If the policy works it will kick off like a huge tinder box.

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They will only buy ¥ denominated treasuries.

I see trouble ahead! :lol:

For over a decade the Japanese have been trying to kick start their export led recovery without much success. In that period average Japanese workers have seen their wages decline and job lost while their saving have been lent to feckless westerners who have basically spunked it up the wall in an orgy of over consumption and property speculation. Now they appear to have had enough. It look like that stream of repatriated of Yen that started at the beginning of the credit crisis could become a torrent.

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