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Japan’s Unfinished Reformation

TOKYO – Revolutions, it is often claimed, do not happen when people are desperate. They occur in times of rising expectations. Perhaps this is why they so often end in disappointment. Expectations, usually set too high to begin with, fail to be met, resulting in anger, disillusion, and often in acts of terrifying violence.

Japan’s change of government in 2009 – when the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) broke the almost uninterrupted monopoly on power held by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) since 1955 – was not a revolution. But, rather like the election of the first black president of the United States, it was fizzing with popular expectations, promising a fundamental shift from the past.