June 2nd, 2010
04:38 AM GMT
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WANTED: CEO to lead a blue-chip country slightly past its prime.

Must be experienced consensus builder who can appeal to the nation’s urban elite while appeasing its politically powerful rural communities. Ability to harness nation’s spirit of innovation amid its revolving-door politics preferred.

Must be a self-starter who can get things done in one of the most politically conservative nations in Asia - in one year or less.

After eight months in office, Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is out. No amount of multicolored fashion statements could save his approval rating.

It is an ignoble end for Hatoyama. His Democratic Party of Japan defeated the Liberal Democratic Party, which had a virtual stranglehold on Japanese politics since World War II.  But any hopes that the party’s victory would bring significant change to Japanese politics are dimming.

If there is any consolation for Hatoyama, he is in good company – Japan has had four new prime ministers in four years. Indeed, looking over the history of Japanese prime ministers in the past 50 years, few survive longer than a year or two.

However, it’s interesting to note that Japan's golden age of durable prime ministers seems to have been from 1957 to 1972 – where in a 15-year period of time the nation had three prime ministers. It also marks a time when the nation had its greatest era of economic expansion, with annual growth rates that rival that of China today and propelled the nation to the second largest economy in the world.

It makes one wonder: Is Japan’s political instability the result, or the cause, of Japan’s economic doldrums?

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Alfa

    I want to apply to be the PM. I'll propose a less-materialistic way of life based on the pursuit of truth, transcendence, knowledge, inner peace and spiritual happiness.

    June 2, 2010 at 5:57 am |
  2. 123

    Looks like lolicon won't get banned now!

    June 2, 2010 at 6:31 am |
  3. William Ishiwata

    Political instability in Japan is a direct result of the fact that in the last NHK survey more than 42% of respondents said they were not represented and therefore did not support any of the parties.

    Other issues are that the desire to have coalitions causes unnecessary complications. If there were a single party able to sweep elections then things could change. But.... the ability of that party to unite the farmers, salarymen, homemakers, students, pensioners etc is almost impossible.

    The recent governments have destroyed any chance at a painless economic recovery. Consumption tax should have been raised back in 2002 when the Japan Business Federation chairman suggested at a 1% bump per year, now we will be facing at least a 10% rise. 44 Trillion JPY in government bonds, like paying your VISA with a cash advance from your MASTERCARD, please....

    I shutter for my son and his generation.

    June 2, 2010 at 6:44 am |
  4. suqata_lance

    I hope the attitude of voluntarily stepping down from power is applicable to all countries. It is really an honorable one to practice.

    June 2, 2010 at 7:48 am |
  5. AHM

    I was going to throw my own hat into the reing, but I think I'll support Alfa. If the SDF had guts, they might try a coup at this point. The country is rudderless.

    June 2, 2010 at 8:00 am |
  6. Matt

    Love to apply for the job. But anybody with the actual power and will to do the job properly would never get the job. A rudderless country past it's used by date. All Japanese politicians are the same. Money grubbing leaches. No other country in the world elects such usesless politicains. The country needs a grass root colour revolution like those in the Baltic states.

    June 2, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  7. tomok

    Totally against this quitting-after-messing-everything-up thing.
    It's just plain irresponsible. PMs are off the hook and are able to
    go live quietly on the fortunes their fathers and grandfathers left
    to them, while the population is left in a wreck.

    50s and 60s were probably good because the US were heavily
    involved; not because of good Japanese politics. Then in the 70s,
    when the US had to focus on their own well being, and Japan
    doing well enough, Japan was left to the Japanese,
    and doom was set.

    June 2, 2010 at 8:48 am |
  8. Sharath

    I am a very motivated man. Recently, I lost my job in Bangalore because of politics. Can I apply for the Jap PMs post?

    June 2, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  9. fantazamaraz

    Gutless is the ONLY way to describe the Guy.....all the hoo haa BS how he was gonna take Japan in a new direction,etc,etc,etc, what a quitter. How he ever got to be PM beats the hell outa me !


    June 2, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
  10. Mack

    I live in Japan .It very strange to see how most of japanese especially young people are not interested in politics.Some dont even know their country's leaders name.I think that this is one of the reason of this country's economic success.Every body is focusing in his own business,nobody is interested in things like politics that give no pratical benefits

    June 2, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
  11. Alain Breton

    The problem with Japan's PM is the same as a common problem in Japanese society. It's hard to find a good leader in a country that doesn't value individualism. A real leader needs to have not only the humility to to accept the will of the people but also the strength to believe in himself, which is too uncommon in Japan. These politicians are only the sad reflection of how many Japanese people see themselves. In the end, a country always gets the leader it deserves.

    June 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
  12. jrw

    Smile at America and he is still there.

    June 2, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
  13. Dan

    Hmmm? Maybe it's time for a woman?

    June 2, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  14. Jeff

    Let's hope the DJP can field a not only someone with vision but a leader.
    I do not seek to be the Shogun... I am. per James Clavell.

    Ganbatte DJP!

    June 2, 2010 at 6:39 pm |
  15. sandy

    its really good that someone who willing to step down from being non eligible, i hope rest of the world leaders are watching.

    Japan is a very respectable country but has to fight with its corruption problem, people are ready to work hard and work for the country. Its just matter of community services which can bring country together. If you remember your roots then you have faith too. I willing to be part of the team.

    June 4, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  16. Lumie

    I am Japanese but I am tired of living in Japan and seeing prime ministers stepping down... I wish we had a prime minister like President Obama. We want change!

    June 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
  17. Stephen

    "It also marks a time when the nation had its greatest era of economic expansion, with annual growth rates that rival that of China today and propelled the nation to the second largest economy in the world."

    At the expense of the Japanese people, of course. At the time when Japan's GNP was #2 in the world, its standard of living was #22. Rapid industrial expansion caused environmental damage that is still being fought today (see Minamata Disease, for example). Even after the oil shock of '72, the economy was put before the people – and that ended in '90 with the economic bubble bursting, which has created an entire "Lost Generation" of men and women barely able to feed themselves. And the government wonders why there has been a slump in the birth rate and an increase in suicide rates...

    June 11, 2010 at 6:10 am |
  18. Deepak

    Both the political instability and the economic doldrums are a result of DNA homogeneity in Japan. In todays world, cross*fertilization of DNA is absolute must for developing global survival & innovation skills.

    How many Japanese mary foreigners in Japan? For innovation to happen, Japan must have a friendly immigration system.

    June 17, 2010 at 6:12 pm |
  19. Hiro

    I think its important to note that this act of 'taking responsibility' and 'stepping down' is actually the most irresponsible act a prime minister could do. Think about it – I screwed up, I created more problems, so I'm stepping down? I sincerely believe that these people should be held responsible and should be forced to at least try to make the situation better. With every prime minister change, the political and economic situation of Japan gets worse and worse. These men did not fight up the political ladder like the prime ministers of old did back in the so-called 'Golden Age.' Junichiro Koizumi, Japan's most stable prime minister in recent history, failed to become head of his party twice before finally making it the third time and became prime minister. These men who are just lifted up by their parties because they are liked by the public lack motivation and the leadership to be the leader of a country like Japan.

    June 28, 2010 at 1:23 am |
  20. Yuko

    I strongly believe the people are tend to damn the government without giving alternative ideas.Nobody cares which parties take the role.All what expected is simply a better society.Nonetheless,attitude of the people is extremely conservative,allowing the law makers do nothing new.Its also the Japanese to change the taxing situation.Let-them-do philosophy is required to make this happen.Results are everything in Politics.

    June 28, 2010 at 3:37 am |

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