LDP win highlights economy over nuclear concerns

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 17, 2012 at 5:20 am •  Published: December 17, 2012
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Hiroshi Izumi, a politics expert, said that public support for the LDP did not increase from the last election, but votes were just splintered much among other parties.

"The election system isn't set up to reflect public opinion at all," he said.

The LDP is expected to revive pork-barrel spending that bolstered decades of growth following World War II, and push for inflation targets that will effectively curtail a rising yen — a boon for the major exporters of Japan Inc. Tokyo stock prices rose Monday on expectations of such policies.

"I had such big hopes for the Tomorrow Party. They were saying the most correct things," Yutaka Kawakami, a 34-year-old jewelry-store worker said in a telephone interview from the southwestern island of Okinawa.

"I really wonder if the people who voted for the Liberal Democrats really know what their policies are," said Kawakami, who along with other skeptics fears the Liberal Democrats will boost hawkish nationalism, raise taxes and favor big business over the little guy.

Most of all, they fear the Liberal Democrats will restart the nation's 48 working nuclear reactors that are still offline, except for two that are back up, since the disaster.

The fears have prompted thousands of people to regularly hold rallies against the restart of the reactors in front of the Parliament buildings in Tokyo on Friday evenings and national holidays.

There are worries about spewing radiation from Fukushima Dai-ichi, as well as a repeat of the nuclear disaster because of the multiple quake faults underneath plants that dot Japan's coastlines.

Anti-nuclear activist and writer Mari Takenouchi is worried for the future of Japan under LDP leader Shinzo Abe, known for nationalistic views that have upset relations with China and other Asian neighbors.

Abe is almost certain to become the next prime minister when legislators vote, likely later this month. Reflecting widespread opinion in the anti-nuclear camp, Takenouchi fears Abe may see the election as a mandate to do whatever he wants.

"I was shocked out of my wits by the results," she said. "It's just beyond my comprehension."

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Follow Yuri Kageyama on Twitter at www.twitter.com/yurikageyama



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