As expected, Japan’s parliament elected Yukio Hatoyama as the country’s new prime minister on Wednesday.
The vote by the lower house of the parliament was virtually assured. Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won a landslide election last month, and controls 308 of the lower chamber’s 480 seats. Earlier, defeated prime minister Taro Aso and his cabinet resigned. Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had governed the country for nearly half a century. Handed a sweeping mandate for change, Hatoyama begins the formidable task of delivering on a laundry list of promises intended to lift the country after its worst recession since World War II. Watch more about the political upheaval Voters — skeptical, pessimistic and impatient — are unlikely to give the party, which has never held office, much time to make good. Japan is witnessing historic highs in unemployment and experiencing ramifications like homelessness for the first time. Hatoyama touted a Barack Obama-style message of change. He pledged to raise the minimum wage and discourage hiring through agencies or on temporary contracts. Hatoyama’s party has adopted a salvation plan based on “trickle up economics.” It wants to put money in the hands of families, in hopes that they will spend it in Japan and stimulate the world’s second-largest economy.
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Though Japan officially rebounded from its recession in mid-August, Japanese households have yet to feel secure about a lasting economic recovery. In its election manifesto, the DPJ said it will pay about $3,000 per child to each family every year — to encourage women to have babies and reverse the country’s rapidly aging and shrinking population. It will also pay about $1,000 a month to each unemployed Japanese as he looks for a job. Watch report on why voters are looking for change
But the question is, where will the money come from Japan’s budget deficit is enormous. Its national debt is almost two times its gross domestic product. The DPJ says the money is there, tied up in the corruption and bureaucracy of decades-long LDP rule.