Elections Show A Nostalgic Japan and A Forward-Looking Korea

The Japanese flag outside the Diet building. But who will return as Prime Minister?

The Japanese flag outside the Diet building. But who will return as Prime Minister?

This December, a Japanese general election and a South Korean presidential election will almost coincide.

Apart from the scheduled time though, there are very few similarities between the two elections. In Japan, the incumbent self-described progressive party, the DPJ, is faced by a more conservative party, the LDP, which has held almost continuous power since the 1950s, whilst in Korea, it is the leading conservative party, the Saenuri party, which is faced by more progressives forces in the form of the Democratic United Party and the independent supporters of Ahn Cheol-soo. The contrasts between the two countries as they both simultaneously gear towards elections have attracted the interest of the international press.

When the Financial Times published an article about this in China, the Yahoo! News Japan item describing the contents of the article became one of the site’s top trending articles.

From Yahoo! Japan:

A Japan That Wants a Return to the Past and a Korea That Looks Towards the Future: The Differences Between Both Nations Apparent Through Their Elections According to An English Newspaper

On December 7, 2012, the Chinese language edition of the Financial Times published an article entitled ‘The Differences Between the Japanese and Korean Elections’.

There will be a Lower House election on December 16 in Japan and a presidential election on December 19 in Korea. Both Japan and Korea are showing the full furor of their election campaigns. Some interesting facts become apparent when you compare the two countries. One thing Korea and Japan both share is that the smaller opposition parties, even if they don’t ultimately win, have a casting vote. However, while Ahn Cheol-soo, who has a progressive and forward-looking image, fills this role in Korea, in Japan the popularity of the right-wing is growing from the disappointment with traditional government circles.

A nostalgic mood is growing today in Japan. In the case of the Japan Restoration Party, the things they feel nostalgic about go all the way back to the 19th century. In this mood, it doesn’t seem important for Abe Shinzo, the president of the LDP and the most likely candidate to become the next Prime Minister, to make it clear how he is different from his grandfather, Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke. Korea is the exact opposite. Park Geun-hye apologized for the human rights violations committed by her father President Park Chung-hee. One specialist explained this was like Park Geun-hye spitting on her father’s grave.

In terms of economic issues, how to redistribute wealth and how to avoid the two ruts Japan fell into during the 1980s at the expense of its workers are important debates in Korea, while how to achieve economic growth is the biggest issue in Japan.

Finally, while foreign policy is not all that much of a major issue Korea, it is hugely significant in Japan. The reason Japan maintains such a strong stance about the Senkaku island dispute with China is because politics are becoming more right-wing.

A typical Japanese ballot paper

A typical Japanese ballot paper

Comments from Yahoo! Japan:


If we look towards the future, we’re probably not going to give a damn about comfort women or Takeshima.


A forward looking Korea…there’s no way a country that has only fabricated the history of its past could have a decent future


Yeah well, Koreans have backwards laws so it’s normal to want to modernize


We can’t go back to the last 3 years where the DPJ were given power and took the country down the wrong path. Abe is definitely looking towards the future. We should cut diplomatic relation with Korea, he really understands that. I really want him to do this. Clean the country.


Japan has a past it wants to go back to and Korea has a past it doesn’t want to go back to.


Forward looking anti-Japanese forgeries?!(笑) They forge history from the past (grrr)


China and Korea are ultra-right wing compared to Japan.


Well, for its defense capacity, Japan is just going back to being a normal country.
‘looking towards the future’ and ‘wanting to go back to the past’ doesn’t mean anything


They are only saying that they want to make a Japan which protects what it should protect and says what it should say. Those who say that they’re saying the same thing as the DPJ make me laugh. For your information, a country which fabricates things has no future. It’s only lies piled upon lies!


Yeh well they do wanna go back. It’s weirder to go back on a road which we know slips into a huge abyss instead of going forward.


It’s only the difference between a country which knows glory and a country which only knows shame.


An English newspaper doesn’t know how it really is. Some people are looking out for the revival of strong Japan.


Dear Korea, how about stopping stealing in the future? Is stealing products from the past really a future? ^^


Don’t want to be told what to do by a Chinese Communist Party which has no future


Fuck off!! Outsiders should just shut up! Stupid idiots


Maybe it’s because I’m sleep-deprived, but I don’t understand what they’re saying.

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