Yuki Tatsumi’s analysis appeared on CSIS Japan Watch on September 23, 2005. An excerpt of that analysis appears below.
On September 11, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi exceeded the world’s expectation by carrying the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to the second largest election victory in the party’s history. The election, for better or for worse, was a national referendum on postal privatization. Such a single-issue campaign strategy worked brilliantly for Koizumi. Now that Koizumi has won, there is great anticipation in Washington that he is now well-positioned not only to execute his reform agenda beyond postal privatization. The United States also anticipates that Japan under Koizumi’s leadership will make good progress on a range of bilateral issues, from resumption of American beef exports to Japan to the realignment of US forces in Japan. With such a commanding majority in the House of Representatives (the LDP now has 296 out of 480 seats in the chamber), Koizumi can, in theory, accomplish what Washington hopes for. In reality, though, Koizumi’s victory will most likely turn out to be a mixed blessing for Washington. With so many policy questions unanswered, only time will tell whether Koizumi’s landslide victory was a temporary relief for Washingotn or a real beginning of a new relationship with Japan.
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