News > Japan's election notes

Japan's election notes

posted on 4:59 PM, August 31, 2009

August 31, 2009  Japan’s centre-left opposition Democratic party (DJP) has won an historic victory over the Liberal Democrats (LDP) in Sunday's election.

According to the Japanese Embassy (Ottawa), the DPJ won 308 of 480 seats in the Diet's lower house, just short of a two-thirds majority in the lower house that would have allowed it to enact legislation without the approval of its coalition allies.  Before the poll, the LDP had 300 seats to the DJP's 115.

How will this change in Japanese government affect Canadian companies doing business in Japan or with Japanese companies in B.C. and North America? The comments following have been prepared in response to a number of questions about the dramatic win by the DPJ in this election, and are the opinion of the author only.
  • As a foreign policy, the new Japanese government will likely focus on developing closer links with economies other than with the US.
  • Hatoyama's focus will be directed to the withdrawal of US forces from Japan.
  • On the record for condemning "US-led market fundamentalism", Hatoyama holds the European Union as a model, suggesting east Asian political integration and for starters, an east Asian regional currency.
  • DPJ leadership has stated that they have human rights concerns which may be problematic in the relationship with China, but this will not stop Japan's economic engine from running ever faster in Asia, including China.

These days, attention may seem to focus predominantly on China and its masses, but the reality is still that Japan is the biggest player in the east with a bigger economy than China’s. Japan's GDP is US$4.9 trillion while China's is US$4.4 trillion.

Canadians will find it particularly opportune to build on established trade links with Japan and leverage our national position in new sectors as well as through relationships with Japanese companies into other areas of Asia.  Canadian companies involved in or looking at Japan should take heart. Not being American is a card to pull out of your deck and play to your advantage. If Asia is in your sights, now is the time to place your bets.

Steven J. Archer
Canada Japan Society of British Columbia


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