In the general election last fall, the Democratic Party of Japan ended five decades of rule by the Liberal Democratic Party, and embarked on an ambitious and very popular agenda of reform in public policy and political process. Today, with an Upper House election coming in a few weeks, the popularity of the DPJ and Prime Minister Hatoyama have plunged. Causes include troubles with political money, a drawn-out dispute with the United States over a helicopter base in Okinawa, and the general impression that Hatoyama and the DPJ leadership have fumbled one decision after another. This lecture will briefly describe the key issues in foreign and domestic policy and process reform, and assess (though not predict) the DPJ's chances in the election and the likely shape of Japanese politics for the next three years.
John Creighton Campbell taught Japanese politics at the University of Michigan for thirty years. He is currently a visiting professor at the Berlin Free University, but will soon return to Japan and his post as a visiting researcher at the Institute of Gerontology at Tokyo University. His research centers on long-term care, health care and other welfare state issues, but he tries to keep up with events in the general political arena as well.