The Lower House election on August 30, 2009, saw a wrenching break from the familiar in Japanese politics. Fifty-four years of almost uninterrupted single-party rule by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party was shattered by the massive electoral win by the Democratic Party of Japan. This article contends that the results can be traced to the LDP's unresolved internal tensions between its productivity-oriented and its pork-oriented constituencies and the party's consequent inability to bring the country back to economic prosperity. For several years, the administration of Koizumi Jun'ichirō looked victorious in its efforts at reform and productivity, but his and the LDP's temporary win was quickly reversed by the LDP's pork constituency and mounting global economic difficulties. The 2009 electoral loss suggests that the Japanese political system will be fundamentally altered.


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pp. 227-254
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