THIRTY-eight consecutive years of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) domination came to an end in Japan on July 29 this year, when the leaders of a seven-party coalition met to declare their co-operation in forming a unified government. At the meeting, the leaders also decided to appoint Morihiro Hosokawa, founder of the Japan New Party (JNP), as their candidate for prime minister. One week later, on August 6, Mr Hosokawa was elected to the post. Mr Hosokawa had formed the JNP only 15 months earlier with the vision of putting an end to the corrupt political system. His ideas struck a chord with the electorate, and success followed quickly. In the June Tokyo assembly elections, 20 of the party's 22 candidates won seats. The dominance of the LDP was finally wrested away by voters dissatisfied with the existing political system and the reluctance of LDP leaders to adapt to the challenges of the post-Cold War era. On June 18, then-prime minister Kiichi Miyazawa lost a no-confidence vote in parliament, and disaffected LDP politicians, who formed two new parties, joined forces with the JNP and other opposition groupings to win power in the July 18 elections. The JNP agreed to join the non-LDP coalition on condition that its ideas for political and electoral reform would be adopted. Clear majorities in both houses of Japan's parliament, the Diet, saw Mr Hosokawa elected prime minister. On coming to power, he pledged that his cabinet would initiate a new era of trust in the government of the country. Mr Hosokawa studied at Tokyo's famous Sophia University and, after graduating, he became a reporter on the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, where he covered social issues. Mr Hosokawa worked at the paper for five years, before entering public office. In 1971, at the age of 33, he was elected to the House of Councillors as a member of the LDP. Twelve years later, he returned to his home prefecture of Kumamoto, where he was elected governor. Over the next eight years, Mr Hosokawa earned a reputation as a ''post-modern governor''. In May last year, he founded the JNP, speaking against political corruption. Two months later, under the banner of his new party, Mr Hosokawa was again successfully elected to the House of Councillors. One year later, he was voted into the House of Representatives. Mr Hosokawa faces many tough issues as prime minister. He must put together a package of election and political reforms - something neither of the two preceding governments could pass - develop policies to pull Japan out of its economic slump, and hold together the broad spectrum of parties which form the government. But with a change in the political climate and the backing of the Japanese people, it is possible Mr Hosokawa will change the face of Japan.