Last month, Japan’s Prime Minister Taro Aso called for general elections to be held on August 30th amid pressure from his own Liberal Democratic Party to step down. Just one day earlier, the LDP lost the majority to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in the Tokyo assembly; its fifth consecutive loss in a local election. In the lower house, the DPJ currently holds 112 of the 480 seats, but polls suggest that the DPJ may control as many as 300 after the election.
Yukio Hatoyama, the leader of the DPJ and likely Japan’s next prime minister, could take relations with the U.S. in a very different direction than his predecessor. Mr. Hatoyama recently wrote in a Japanese magazine, "The era of U.S.-led globalism is coming to an end and we are moving away from a unipolar world toward an era of multipolarity.” The DPJ has already vowed to stop refueling U.S. military ships in the Indian Ocean and may question the future of the unpopular U.S. military bases in Japan. Since domestic issues have been at the forefront of the DPJ’s campaign many believe they lack real foreign policy experience. While it is hard to decipher what Japan’s new foreign policy direction will be, the U.S. should be concerned that their sphere of influence has shrunk and China’s may grow.