All eyes turn to elections

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 July, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 July, 1998, 12:00am

ONCE again all eyes are on Japan, where polls show 59 per cent of voters do not support any party in today's election. That is triple the number supporting the most popular one, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by Ryutaro Hashimoto.

There is good reason for this unprecedented cynicism: none of the parties seems to offer the sort of leadership Japan needs to get through its economic and financial crisis.

Take the LDP. A cartoon in Friday's Asahi newspaper summed up their economic policy. It showed them as a sheep being chased by two dogs, one called the United States and the other called upper house election, and both were barking for tax cuts.

The LDP has not been taking any real initiative on its own, instead being herded by markets, popular opinion and US pressure. Hardly the sort of decisive leadership Japan needs so badly now.

What about the Democrats? They sound good with their calls for taming bureaucracy and swingeing tax cuts. But voters are suspicious of the party because it is only a few months old and its members have changed their coats so often that even veteran political analysts have trouble keeping track.

The Japanese public used to think it did not matter how incompetent politicians were because the nation had great bureaucrats - a series of scandals has put paid to that.

If anything the bureaucrats are even more despised.

Just how bad does it have to be before the voters decide to 'kick da bums out'?