2009 Japanese general election

A general election for the Japanese House of Representatives was held on August 30, 2009. The opposition Democratic Party (DPJ) defeated the ruling coalition (Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and New Komeito Party) in a sweeping victory, winning 221 of the 300 electoral districts and receiving 42.4% of the proportional block votes for another 87 seats, a total of 308 seats to only 119 for the LDP (64 districts and 26.7% of the proportional votes).[1][2][3]

2009 Japanese general election

30 August 2009

All 480 seats to the House of Representatives of Japan
241 seats needed for a majority
Turnout69.28% (1.77%)
  First party Second party Third party
Leader Yukio Hatoyama Tarō Asō Akihiro Ota
Party Democratic Liberal Democratic Komeito
Leader since 16 May 2009 22 September 2008 30 September 2006
Leader's seat Hokkaidō-9th Fukuoka-8th Tokyo-12th (lost)
Last election 113 seats, 31.02% 296 seats, 38.18% 31 seats, 13.25%
Seats won 308 119 21
Seat change 193 181 10
Popular vote 29,844,799 18,810,217 8,054,007
Percentage 42.41% 26.73% 11.45%
Swing 11.39% 16.45% 1.80%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Leader Kazuo Shii Mizuho Fukushima Yoshimi Watanabe
Party Communist Social Democratic Your
Leader since 24 November 2000 15 November 2003 8 August 2009
Leader's seat Minami-Kantō PR Not contesting
Last election 9 seats, 7.25% 7 seats, 5.49% New party
Seats won 9 7 5
Seat change 0 0 1
Popular vote 4,943,886 (block) 3,006,160 3,005,199
Percentage 7.03% 4.27% 4.27%
Swing 0.22% 1.22% N/A

  Seventh party Eighth party Ninth party
Leader Tamisuke Watanuki Yasuo Tanaka Muneo Suzuki
Party People's New New Party Nippon New Party Daichi
Leader since 17 August 2005 21 August 2005 18 August 2005
Leader's seat Hokuriku-Shin'etsu PR Hyōgo-8th Hokkaidō PR
Last election 4 seats, 1.74% 1 seat, 2.42% 1 seats, 0.64%
Seats won 3 1 1
Seat change 1 1 0
Popular vote 1,219,767 528,171 433,122
Percentage 1.73% 0.75% 0.62%
Swing 0.01% 1.67% 0.02%

Prime Minister before election

Tarō Asō
Liberal Democratic

Prime Minister-designate

Yukio Hatoyama

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Under Japan's constitution, this result virtually assured DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama would be the next Prime Minister of Japan. He was formally named to the post on September 16, 2009.[4] Prime Minister Tarō Asō conceded late on the night of August 30, 2009, that the LDP had lost control of the government, and announced his resignation as party president.[5] A leadership election was held on September 28, 2009.

The 2009 election was the first time since World War II that voters mandated a change in control of the government to an opposition political party.[6] It marked the worst defeat for a governing party in modern Japanese history, was only the second time the LDP lost a general election since its formation in 1955, and was the first time that the LDP lost its status as the largest party in the lower house; the only other break in LDP control since 1955 had been for a 3-year period from 1993 to 1996 (first 11 months in opposition, then participating in a coalition government under a Socialist prime minister).[7]


Developments towards the election

The last general election took place in 2005 in which the LDP, led by popular prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, received 38.2% of the proportional block votes and 47.8% of the district votes cast (the next largest party, the DPJ, received 31% in the proportional and 36.4% in the district vote). Due to the characteristics of the Japanese election system, the LDP ended up with 296 seats in the Lower House (61.6%), which enabled Koizumi to complete the privatization of Japan Post. Since then Japan has had three further prime ministers (Shinzō Abe, Yasuo Fukuda and Tarō Asō) who have come to power without there being a general election.

On September 1, 2008, Yasuo Fukuda abruptly announced he was retiring as leader. Taro Aso won the subsequent LDP leadership election, which was held on September 22, 2008.[8] Media sources speculated that, in the wake of a recent change in leadership, Prime Minister Taro Aso might call elections in late October or early November 2008 while his popularity was still high,[9]

There were expectations that the steady decline and numerous scandals of the LDP might lead to the complete extinction of the party and the creation of a new political system, with actual ideologically coherent parties emerging instead of the current system of a shared interest in power with stark ideological differences.[10]

In late June 2009, there were rumours of a planned election date in early August 2009.[11] In prefectural elections in Tokyo, the LDP again lost a lot of seats and was for the first time since 1965 not the largest party in the prefectural assembly. The next day, Aso confirmed these rumours by calling for an election on August 30, 2009.[12]

As soon as the election was called, a campaign was underway by a group of LDP Diet Members to replace Aso as leader. Fully one-third of the parliamentary party (including finance minister Kaoru Yosano) were reported to have signed a petition calling for an urgent party meeting to discuss the issue. The BBC reported LDP critics of Aso asserting that an election with him still as leader would be "political suicide".[13] Prime Minister Aso dissolved the House of Representatives on July 21, 2009.[14] The official campaign started on August 18, 2009.[15]

Former LDP minister Yoshimi Watanabe announced the foundation of a new party, Your Party, on August 8, 2009.[16]

Policy platforms

The DPJ's policy platforms include: a restructuring of civil service; a monthly allowance for families with children (at 26000 yen per child); a cut in the fuel tax; income support for farmers; free tuition for public high schools; the banning of temporary work in manufacturing;[17] raising the minimum wage to 1000 yen; and the halting of any increase in sales tax for the next four years.[15][18][19]

The LDP's policy platforms are similar to the DPJ's. A New York Times article on August 28, 2009 noted both platforms offer little on economic policies.[20]

Pre-election polls

Before the dissolution of the lower house, National weekly magazines had been citing analysts predicting a big loss for the ruling coalition which held two-thirds of the seats in the House of Representatives. Some (e.g., Shūkan Gendai[21]) warned that the LDP could lose as much as half of that. Many based their predictions on the low approval rating of the Prime Minister Taro Aso and the devastating loss that the LDP suffered in the earlier prefectural election in Tokyo. On August 20 and 21, 2009, Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun, leading national newspapers, and Nikkei Shimbun, a financial daily, reported that the DPJ was poised to win over 300 of the 480 contested seats.[22][23][24]

On August 22, 2009, Mainichi Shimbun went further to predict that the DPJ could win over 320 seats, meaning almost all DPJ candidates would win.[25] Mainichi noted that the DPJ appeared to be doing well in the western part of Japan, a traditional stronghold of the LDP, and that the LDP could lose all of its single-member constituency seats in 15 prefectures, including Hokkaidō, Aichi, and Saitama.[26] Also, according to Mainichi, the Japanese Communist Party will probably retain its previous 9 seats, while the Komeito Party and the Social Democratic Party may lose some of their shares.

According to a poll conducted on August 22, 2009 by the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest newspaper, 40 percent said they would vote for the DPJ, while 24 percent for the LDP.[27]

Candidates by party

Party Number of Candidates Gender of Candidates Proportional representation Holding seats at dissolution
Male Female Constituencies Proportional representation
Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 326 29927 30637 303
New Komeito Party (NKP) 5147484331
Japan Renaissance Party (JRP) 110101
Democratic Party (DPJ) 3302844627159112
Social Democratic Party (SDP) 3725123167
People's New Party (PNP) 18171995
New Party Nippon (NPN) 880260
Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 17111952152199
Your Party (YP) 15123141 -
New Party Daichi (NPD) 431041
Happiness Realization Party (HRP) 33726275288490
Essential Party (EP) 211020
World Economic Community Party (WECP) 110100
Freeway Club Party (FCP) 110100
Smile Japan Party (SJP) 110100
Forest Sea Party (FSP) 110100
Independent 7061970-[28]9
Total 1,374 1,145229 1,139235 478[29]


The DPJ swept the LDP from power in a massive landslide, winning 308 seats (out of a total of 480 seats), while the LDP won only 119 seats[1] - the worst defeat for a sitting government in modern Japanese history. This was in marked contrast to the 1993 election, the only other time the LDP has lost an election. In that election, the LDP remained by far the largest party in the House with well over 200 seats, despite losing its majority. However, in the 2009 election the LDP was nearly 200 seats behind the DPJ. Of 83 Koizumi Children who became new LDP representatives in 2005, only 10 were reelected.

The DPJ won a strong majority in the House of Representatives, thus virtually assuring that Hatoyama would be the next prime minister. Under the Constitution, if the House of Representatives and the House of Councilors cannot agree on a choice for prime minister, the choice of the House of Representatives is deemed to be that of the Diet. Hatoyama was nominated as prime minister on September 16 and formally appointed later that day by Emperor Akihito.

However, the DPJ was just short of a majority in the House of Councillors, and fell just short of the 320 seats (a two-thirds majority) needed to override negative votes in the upper chamber. Hatoyama was thus forced to form a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party and People's New Party.[30]

308 7 3 1 1 9 5 6 21 119
Democratic Party S
Liberal Democratic Party
 Summary of the 30 August 2009 Japanese House of Representatives election results[31][32][33][34]
Alliances and parties Local constituency votePR block vote Total
Votes[35]%Seats Votes%Seats
   Democratic Party (DPJ) 33,475,33547.43%221 29,844,79942.41%87 308193195
Social Democratic Party (SDP)[36] 1,376,7391.95%3 3,006,1604.27%4 700
People's New Party (PNP) 730,5701.04%3 1,219,7671.73%0 311
New Party Nippon[37] 220,2230.31%1 528,1710.75%0 110
New Party Daichi no district candidates 433,1220.62%1 100
Ruling DPJ–SDP–PNP coalition & parliamentary allies 35,802,86650.73%228 35,032,01949.78%92 320193194
   Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) 27,301,98238.68%64 18,810,21726.73%55 119181177
New Komeito Party (NKP) 782,9841.11%0 8,054,00711.45%21 211010
Japan Renaissance Party 36,6500.05%0 58,1410.08%0 010
Opposition LDP–NKP coalition & parliamentary allies 28,121,61339.84%64 26,922,36538.26%76 140192187
   Japanese Communist Party (JCP) 2,978,3544.22%0 4,943,8867.03%9 900
Your Party (YP) 615,2440.87%2 3,005,1994.27%3 515
Others 1,077,5431.53%0 466,786[38]0.66%0 000
Independents[39] 1,986,0562.81%6 6012
Totals 70,581,680100.00%300 70,370,255100.00%180 4802*0
Turnout 69.28% 69.27% *(vacant seats)
Majoritarian vote (300 districts)
DPJ (contesting 271)
LDP (contesting 289)
JCP (contesting 152)
SDP (contesting 31)
NKP (contesting 8)
PNP (contesting 9)
YP (contesting 14)
NPN (contesting 2)
70 independents
293 others
Majoritarian seats
Proportional vote (11 districts/"blocks")
DPJ (contesting 11)
LDP (contesting 11)
NKP (contesting 11)
JCP (contesting 11)
SDP (contesting 11)
YP (contesting 7)
PNP (contesting 8)
NPN (contesting 6)
NPD (contesting 1)
Others (contesting 11)
Proportional seats
DPJ (-undernomination)
LDP (+reallocation)
NKP (+reallocation)
YP (-undernomination)
Total lower house seats

Had the parties nominated a sufficient number of candidates on their proportional "block" lists, the election result would have given the DPJ two additional seats in Kinki, the YP one in Kinki and one in Tōkai. In Kinki, two seats went to the LDP, one to Kōmeitō, in Tōkai one to the DPJ.[40] For the same reason, one Democratic Kinki proportional seat fallen vacant in 2010 (Mitsue Kawakami) cannot be filled until the next general election.

Notable incumbents defeated
Norihiko AkagiFormer Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Seishiro EtōFormer Defense MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Tetsuma EsakiFormer Senior Vice Minister of Land, Infrastructure and TransportLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Takashi FukayaFormer International Trade and Industry MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Hajime FunadaFormer Minister of Economic Planning AgencyLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Tetsuzo FuyushibaMinister of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation MinisterNew Komeito Party (NKP)
Yoshiaki HaradaForeign Affairs Committee ChairLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Mitsuo HoriuchiFormer International Trade and Industry MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Yamato InabaAgricultural Committee ChairLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Kiichi InoueDisaster Management MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Gaku IshizakiFormer Senior Vice-Minister of Internal Affairs and CommunicationsLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Kosuke ItoCommittee on Fundamental National Policies ChairmanLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Shintaro ItoSenior Vice-Minister of Foreign AffairsLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Tatsuya ItoFormer Minister in charge of Financial AffairsLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Yukio JitsukawaFormer Senior Vice Minister of JusticeLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Toshiki KaifuFormer Prime Minister of JapanLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Yōko KamikawaMinister of State for Gender Equality and Social Affairs of JapanLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Kazuo KitagawaFormer Land, Infrastructure and Transportation MinisterNew Komeito Party (NKP)
Tomokatsu KitagawaParliamentary Secretary of the EnvironmentLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Kenji KosakaFormer Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Saburo KomotoSenior Vice Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and TechnologyLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Fumio KyumaFormer Defence MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Kenichi MizunoFormer Senior Vice-Minister of JusticeLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Nobuhide MinorikawaParliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign AffairsLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Yoichi MiyazawaSenior Vice-Minister of Cabinet OfficeLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Shōichi NakagawaFormer Treasury MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Taro NakayamaFormer Foreign MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Kyoko NishikawaFormer Senior Vice-Minister of Health, Labour and WelfareLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Kosaburo NishimeParliamentary Secretary of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and TourismLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Yuya NiwaFormer Health, Labour and Welfare MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Koji OmiFormer Treasury MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Akihiro OtaChief Representative of New KomeitoNew Komeito Party (NKP)
Seiichi OtaAgriculture, Forestry and Fisheries MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Toshitsugu SaitoFormer Defence MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Takashi SasagawaFormer General Council Chairman of LDPLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Yoshinobu ShimamuraFormer Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Junji SuzukiFormer Vice-Minister for Internal Affairs and CommunicationsLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Shunichi SuzukiFormer Minister of Environment AgencyLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Seiken SugiuraFormer Minister of JusticeLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Minoru TeradaFormer Parliamentary Defense SecretaryLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Tōru ToidaFormer Parliamentary Health SecretaryLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Kisaburo TokaiFormer Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and TechnologyLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Tamisuke WatanukiPresident of the People's New Party, Former Speaker of the House of RepresentativesPeople's New Party (PNP)
Akihiko YamamotoFormer Senior Vice Minister of Cabinet OfficeLiberal Democratic Party
Akiko YamanakaVice-Minister of Foreign AffairsLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Taku YamasakiFormer Vice President of LDPLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Hakuo YanagisawaFormer Health, Labour and Welfare MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Okiharu YasuokaFormer Minister of JusticeLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Yoshio YatsuFormer Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Notable candidates defeated in their own districts but who remain in power through the block system
Akira AmariFormer Minister of Economy, Trade and IndustryLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Motoo HayashiChairman of the National Commission on Public SafetyLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Bunmei IbukiFormer Secretary General of LDPLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Ichirō KamoshitaMinister for the EnvironmentLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Jirō KawasakiFormer Minister of Health, Labour and WelfareLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Seigo KitamuraSenior Vice-Minister of DefenseLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Yuriko KoikeFormer Minister of DefenseLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Nobutaka MachimuraFormer Chief Cabinet Secretary and former Foreign Affairs MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Jinen NagaseFormer Minister of JusticeLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Hidenao NakagawaFormer Secretary General of LDPLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Seiko NodaFormer State Minister in charge of Consumer AffairsLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Fukushiro NukagaFormer Finance MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Hideaki OmuraFormer Vice Minister of Health, Labour and WelfareLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Tsutomu SatoInternal Affairs and Communications and Public Safety MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Ryu ShionoyaMinister of Education, Science and TechnologyLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Tsutomu TakebeFormer Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and FisheriesLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Naokazu TakemotoSenior Vice-Minister of FinanceLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)
Kaoru YosanoFinance MinisterLiberal Democratic Party (LDP)


In March 2011, the Supreme Court decided that the malapportionment of electoral districts in the 2009 election had been in an unconstitutional state. As in previous such rulings (elections of 1972, 1980, 1983 and 1990), the election result is not invalidated, but the vote weight disparity must be reduced by the National Diet soon. The 2009 election has been the first House of Representatives election ruled unconstitutional since the electoral reform of the 1990s and the introduction of parallel voting in single-member districts and proportional "blocks".[41] The two major parties want to use the reform to also significantly reduce the number of proportional seats as both had promised in their 2009 campaigns, but meet resistance from the smaller parties that depend on proportional seats.[42][43]

See also


  1. "'Major win' for Japan opposition". BBC News. 2009-08-30. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
  2. "衆院党派別得票数・率(比例代表)". (in Japanese) Jiji. 2009-08-31.
  3. "衆院党派別得票数・率(選挙区)". (in Japanese) Jiji. 2009-08-31.
  4. "Japan's election: The vote that changed Japan". The Economist. 2009-09-03.
  5. From Kyung Lah (2009-08-31). "Japanese opposition set for victory; PM quits as party head". CNN. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
  6. Ikegami, Akira (3 February 2014). "現代日本の足跡に学ぶ(15) 「本格的」政権交代の反省". 日本経済新聞. Retrieved 3 February 2014. 09年総選挙後、「戦後初の本格的な政権交代」と指摘されました。有権者は「自民党の麻生太郎政権を支持し続けるか」「民主党の鳩山由紀夫代表を選ぶのか」という構図の下、1票を投じることができたためです。
  7. Stockwin, J.A.A. (2011). The rationale for coalition governments In Alisa Gaunder (Ed.) Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics, Taylor & Francis, p. 36–47.
  8. Fackler, Martin (2008-09-22). "Japanese Party Chooses Aso as Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
  9. Ryall, Julian (2008-09-18). "Japanese election brought forward". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
  10. Fackler, Martin (2009-02-20). "Japan's governing party faces political extinction". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  11. english@peopledaily.com.cn (2009-06-27). "Report: Japan's PM eyes general election in early August – People's Daily Online". English.people.com.cn. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
  12. "Japan PM 'calls August election'". BBC World News. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2009-07-13.
  13. Buerk, Roland (2009-07-16). "Party rebels move on Japanese PM". BBC news website.
  14. "Japanese Parliament Is Dissolved". Reuters. 2009-07-21. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
  15. "Railing against the wrong enemy". The Economist. 2009-08-20.
  16. english@peopledaily.com.cn. "Japan's former minister to launch party to campaign in election". English.people.com.cn. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
  17. Ryall, Julian (2009-08-27). "Japan election: unemployed turn on the government". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
  18. Hiroko Tabuchi (2009-08-03). "Opposition Woos Japan's Voters With Costly Vows". New York Times.
  19. Fujioka, Chisa (2009-08-21). "Japan opposition may score landslide win: media". Reuters.
  20. Fackler, Martin (2009-08-29). "Lost in Japan's Election Season: The Economy". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
  21. "J-CASTニュース : 未だに「視界不良」麻生政権 党内に不穏な動き". J-cast.com. 2009-07-13. Retrieved 2009-08-31.
  22. "Analysis: DPJ on pace to win 300 seats". Asahi Shimbun. 2009-09-20.
  23. "Survey: DPJ poised to win over 300 seats". Yomiuri Shimbun. 2009-09-21.
  24. 民主、圧勝の勢い 300議席超が当選圏 衆院選情勢調査 (in Japanese). Nikkei Shimbun. 2009-08-21.
  25. "DPJ could win over 320 seats in Lower House race: Mainichi poll". Mainichi Shimbun. 2009-08-22. Archived from the original on 2009-08-24.
  26. 揺らぐ自民の牙城 15道県全敗か (in Japanese). Mainichi Shimbun. 2009-08-22. Archived from the original on 2009-08-26.
  27. "DPJ Leader Hatoyama Says Domestic Demand Priority". Bloomberg. 2009-08-22.
  28. Seats for proportional representation are only for party rolls.
  29. A full House has 480 seats, so two were vacant at the time of dissolution.
  30. "Hatoyama says DPJ will form coalition even if party performs well in election". Mainichi. 2009-08-22.
  31. General election results final breakdown. Kyodo News. August 31, 2009.
  32. Psephos - Adam Carr. August 31, 2009.
  33. Nihon Keizai Shimbun. August 31, 2009.
  34. Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Home Office, Election Department (総務省自治行政局選挙部): Results of the 45th House of Representatives election, complete edition (45衆結果調全体版)
  35. Decimals from fractional votes (anbunhyō) rounded to full numbers
  36. The Social Democratic Party withdrew from the ruling coalition on May 30, 2010 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10193171
  37. The New Party Nippon (Yasuo Tanaka) withdrew support for the cabinet in April 2012 http://www.kobe-np.co.jp/news/shakai/0004951857.shtml
  38. Happiness Realization Party (kōfuku-jitsugen-tō) 459,387, Essential Party (shintō honshitsu) 7,399
  39. includes 3 members of the Hiranuma Group; 2 independents joined the DPJ parliamentary group immediately after the election
  40. Yomiuri Shimbun, August 31, 2009: 民主、比例近畿Bで名簿登載者不足…議席は他党に
  41. 47 News/Kyodo News, March 28, 2011: 2・30倍の格差は「違憲状態」 09年衆院選で最高裁 Archived 2012-05-25 at the Wayback Machine
  42. The Japan Times, October 17, 2011: Vote disparity reform faces delay over small parties
  43. The Japan Times, June 14, 2012: DPJ bends on Lower House reform
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