It was a big week here in Japan. There was a big election and many changes. Welcome to Japanese politics for Dummies – myself included! Before this week I knew almost nothing about politics in Japan. Well, there are two major parties, the LDP and DPJ (The Liberal Democratic Party and The Democratic Party of Japan). The LDP has basically ruled Japan since 1955. The DPJ won the election bringing a huge power shift to Japanese politics! My students had mixed reactions – some were excited but others pessimistic that real change will occur as a result of the elections. My students told me that the LDP and DPJ are really not very different and share the same roots – you cannot compare the parties to the Democratic and Republical parties at all. My students were also relieved that none of the parties linked to cults won any seats (I think!) – religious cults have their own political parties in Japan which is surprising to me. I saw some of their signs hanging around (like the “Happiness Realization Party”) and that creeped me out. One things is for sure – Japan is in need of change but I am dubious that it can come from politicians!

BBC News Report: Not many incoming prime ministers would envy the task facing Yukio Hatoyama, the man who’s likely to inherit responsibility for Japan’s deep economic crisis after yesterday’s historic election.

The DPJ has won 300 seats in the 480-seat lower house, ending 50 years of almost unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), NHK TV says.

DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama hailed the win as a revolution and said people were “fed up” with the governing party.

Prime Minister Taro Aso has said he will resign as head of the LDP, taking responsibility for the defeat.

Japan is suffering record unemployment and its economy is struggling to emerge from a bruising recession.

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Wow, I head home to the U.S. in three weeks and a few days. Today I shipped two big boxes of clothes to NJ via ship (to save money). I am busy packing my things and starting to say my goodbyes. I will miss the kids most of all. They are by far the most precious part of my work here – I love the kids I have worked with and will miss them terribly.

I plan to go to Tokyo for four days from the 22nd to the 25th and see lots of friends there and say lots of goodbyes. I would like to return to Japan in the future, I think, so hopefully this won’t be a long, long goodbye. I LOVE going to Tokyo – such a busy, exciting, fun city with lots going on. I am excited to also meet up with some missionaries from the Netherlands who are working with a church plant called Tokyo Grace City Church.

Oh gosh, I can’t wait to see my family and friends back home. I think it’ll be good to be home, and I really do miss the U.S. terribly. Only three weeks and four days left! I can hardly wait!

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