International Snapshot: Japan 2009

by Pauline Lejeune // Published November 24, 2009

The Japanese parliamentary elections in August 30, 2009 marked a turning point in Japan’s political history. Since 1955, Japan has been dominated by one party, with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as the governing party for all but 11 months. But in these elections the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) defeated the LDP, winning 308 seats to 109 for the LDP in the 480-seat House of Representatives.

Journalists have touted the election as both a landslide victory of the DPJ and its leader, Yukio Hatoyama, and the worst defeat of a governing party in modern Japanese history. This stunning result is not merely the result of a shift in popular opinion, however, since the DPJ won only 42.4% of the popular vote. The magnitude of its landslide win was mainly due to the rules of the Japanese electoral system.