APAC—Top 10 Stories of Decade

By: The Diplomat

9. The LDP Falls in JapanAugust 30, 2009

image: Uniphoto Press

The two main protagonists of the Japanese general elections of 2009 were the incumbent Prime Minister Taro Aso and his main challenger, Yukio Hatoyama. They were contesting an election that was in some ways a referendum on a political system created in part by their respective grandfathers in the 1950s. That fact tells you pretty much everything you need to know about Japanese politics in the interim. Ossified does not begin to describe a system that in recent years threw up a series of smug and incompetent premiers presiding over two decades of economic decline. The deeply conservative Japanese public was astonishingly forgiving of the failings of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which drew on the ever-diminishing goodwill it earned for steering Japan’s unprecedented economic rise in the four decades following near destruction in World War II.

But by 2009, as the country flirted with industrial output and stock price levels not seen in a quarter of a century and with a particularly gaffe-prone and unpopular politician in power, Japanese had had enough. On August 30, the LDP was handed a drubbing and Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan led a coalition to an historic victory. The outcome was almost entirely the work of Ichiro Ozawa, a one-time LDP power broker who for nearly two decades had been fighting to fulfil his pledge to overturn the political status quo. Denied the premiership because of a funds scandal (and always more comfortable operating behind the scenes) Ozawa is nonetheless the seminal figure in recent Japanese politics. Japan still matters on the global stage–even after two decades of stagnation, it remained the Asia-Pacific’s largest economy in 2009, and it’s showing a growing confidence in regional security matters. But the country needs radical surgery to avoid terminal decline. Holding its leaders accountable in elections like those seen this year would seem a good first step.

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Comments
Vlad January 12, 2010

You are jumping the gun. The first decade of this century ends December 31st 2010.

Don January 14, 2010

Ah, but you wouldn’t consider 1990 to be apart of the 80s, would you?
There was no year “0″, yes, so one may be tempted to say that we do have a year until the “00s” are up. However, seeing as a decade can arbitrarily be any stretch of ten years, it ultimately boils down to personal preference (notwithstanding the fact that we haven’t officially entered the 201st decade). So, yes, we haven’t technically made it into the next decade. But, once again, I wouldn’t consider 1990 to be apart of the 80s. And so, as far as I, and possibly most people, care, we have entered the “10s”, and left the “00s.”

Ashley Gavin January 15, 2010

I don’t see how neither the war in Iraq nor 911 made it to this list…

Xilantro January 15, 2010

Vlad is right – what’s the difference, though? Living in the strikingly stupid and un-democratic US, the 99-year century was no surprise, and moving decades up one for the new millenium makes as much sense as having the electoral college install the wrong guy in the presidency because Fox news announced his victory before votes were counted (that would be Bush) or calling the slaughter of 1m Iraqis a ‘war’ – Welcome to idiocracy! ;-)

Joe January 16, 2010

The 9/11 attack is, without a doubt, the most important event of this decade.

Robin January 16, 2010

Ashley/Joe- Actually, I think this story is called APAC: Top 10 Stories of the Decade for a reason. APAC. It is only concerned with the Asia-Pacific region which would exclude both New York and Iraq.

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