Japan’s Election Offers Little Promise For Change, Exposes Entrenched Interests

Japan’s upcoming election one would assume to be a referendum on nuclear power. Even with considerable interest on the subject and large numbers of the public opposing nuclear power, it may not mean anything will change.

Japan’s political system favors entrenched political power as the LDP has taken advantage of for decades. While there has been some disruption by new parties, they have not managed to take large percentages in polling. One new party being the far right Japan Restoration Party that wants to toss out post war agreements, increase Japan’s military and even hinted at having nuclear weapons. The other party that has been able to at least field candidates is the Party for Japan’s future. This is the closest Japan has to a green party fielding candidates with a platform of rapidly phasing out nuclear power.

What may be contributing to the entrenched politics is the pay to play system. In order to run a candidate a fee of 30,000 to 50,000 euros is needed. The actual Green Party in Japan doesn’t have the money to field candidates. This system raises questions about who can even run for office since only the very rich or big corporations could afford to pay to run candidates, eliminating any chance for true grass roots politicians. Japan’s ban against campaigning online also hurts grassroots candidates and younger candidates. This situation may also cause a disconnect between younger demographics and the political process.

The entrenched system continues to protect the big corporations and the regional power companies. The enormity of the Fukushima disaster will continue to dog the national government and whatever party is in charge will have to deal with the management and decommissioning of the plant at a bare minimum.

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