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Japan’s Unfinished Reformation

Japan's DPJ government, unlike its predecessors, understands that the country must develop a more independent and assertive foreign policy in order to balance the power of China in Asia. But the US seems to prefer an obedient one-party state to a difficult, faltering, but more democratic partner in the region.

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.

This was even truer of Japan than the US. The DPJ not only put many new faces into power, it was going to change the nature of Japanese politics. At last, Japan would become a fully functioning democracy, and not a de facto one-party state run by bureaucrats.

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