A Green Spring Coming to Japan?
|Måndag, 31. Augusti 2009 0 kommentti(a)||
Internationell miljö- och naturresurspolitik forsknigsprogram
On Sunday night the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) swept victoriously into the country’s more powerful lower house, handing the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) its most resounding electoral defeat since its formation in 1955. The DPJ had already achieved a majority in the country’s less powerful upper house in 2007.
As a result of this election, the DPJ now holds 308 (112 prior to the election) out of a total of 480 lower house seats, essentially swapping places with the LDP, who wrested only 119 seats from the electorate (303 prior to the election). DPJ leader Hatoyama Yukio is widely seen as the successor to incumbent Asō Tarō. The DPJ’s categorical victory is perceived to be a direct consequence of the party’s platform for change. Voters were wooed with promises to tackle unprecedented levels of unemployment, fast depleting government coffers straining under the burden of an increasingly aging society, and the neglected matters of education and child support.
This victory may potentially hold far-reaching consequences for
Still, casual observers of
The DPJ in fact shares many characteristics with the ousted LDP. Chief among these is that it is a loose coalition of groups that cover a very wide spectrum of political views, instead of an ideologically unified actor. Experience shows that maintaining unity in such conditions will be difficult: The LDP was once ousted from power in 1993 – only to make a comeback 11 months later, as the would-be dragon slayers with no prior experience of governing tore each other to pieces over the spoils of war.
Whether the environmental pledges will materialize into concrete policy after the dust settles remains to be seen. For the time being, DPJ Secretary General Okada Katsuya holds the line: “We must make cuts [in emissions] based on scientific knowledge at any cost, instead of just doing just what we can”, he has told the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren). Unsurprisingly, business interests and some labour unions remain critical of this target. The Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry has also duly pointed out the nearly fivefold increase in the annual burden per household triggered by the DPJ’s announced policies.
One needs to point out that even the DPJ’s program is far from consistent.
Its pledge to eliminate highway taxes has roundly been criticized by green NGOs
for leading to a reckless increase of GHG emissions. Furthermore, while the
purported new mid-term target may look like a significant increase, the DPJ has
reserved the right to offset domestic emissions by purchasing carbon credits
from abroad. Although currently
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