Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rural Japanese Voters in Revolt

The upcoming elections in Japan could be a referendum on the nation's development policies over the last 20 years. Rural farmers blame the ruling Liberal Democrat Party for promoting an uneven development model that favored urban centers over smaller towns and cutting social protections for the most vulnerable populations. Now, it is widely expected that the Liberal Democrats could face a thrashing at the ballot box later this month.

According to CBS News, Japanese rural voters are revolting against the status-quo in economic development.
Voters here blame former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, a Liberal Democrat, for policies they believe benefited urban centers at the expense of rural Japan. During his five years in office from 2001-2006, Koizumi championed free market reforms to steer the world's second-biggest economy out of its "lost decade" of the 1990s.

He privatized government entities, relaxed trade restrictions on food imports, loosened labor laws, pushed banks to purge bad debt and cut pork-barrel spending. To slash costs, Tokyo ordered smaller villages and municipalities to merge.

Critics point to Koizumi's reforms for exacerbating the urban-rural divide and creating an underclass of temporary workers unprotected during economic downturns.

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