After years of coy teasing and feeling each other up, the country and the parties finally embraced for election in late July. The parties' long dormant election machinery quickly rose to the occasion and thrust themselves into the public view.
For the past month the parties have been mumbling sweet nothings to the electorate through their speaker cars and their volunteers have pounded out posters and pamphlets, thrusting them into the hands of an eager public. Today the long campaign is finally climaxing in an orgiastic burst of votes flowing out all over the country.
The worn-out campaigners may well be excused if they lean back and relax for a bit tomorrow, perhaps with a cigarette.
So what will be born out of this process? It looks like my prediction may have been overly cautious. To my amazement the DPJ did not manage a single self-inflicted disaster, and looks set to achieve a majority. People are even speculating on the (remote) possibility of them achieving a 2/3rds majority on their own. The LDP seems to fall hard, and even the party leadership has had to stay and campaign in their own districts rather than travel and help other members.
Some credit for this outcome must be given to the different campaigns. Tobias Harris points out that the DPJ has run a completely positive campaign, talking only about what they want to achieve and largely ignoring the LDP. The LDP in turn has run a largely negative campaign, and mostly talked about, well, what the DPJ wants to achieve. It's a sad indictment on a party when it's best election efforts only manages to reinforce their opponents message.
We're not going to worry too much about the election here. The weather is good - a little hazy but pleasantly cool - so we'll have lunch at a Spanish restaurant near Midosuji, then take a walk around town. I'll drag my Pentax 67 along, see if I can find something interesting election-related to shoot, and we'll shop for tonight's dinner. Tomorrow is a workday so we're off to bed early; we'll see the election results once we get up tomorrow morning.
If you want to look at the election in much more detail, check out Harris' blog, Observing Japan for a lot of background and analysis. stippy.com has an idiosynchratic cheat sheet of sorts for people that want to follow along in detail. Transpacific Radio (which, to be honest, I have never listened to) will hold a live webcast.
The Mainichi Shinbun has an election site, as does the Asahi Shinbun and Yomiuri Shinbun. I have no idea which one is better; they all get fed the same data though so it probably doesn't matter.
Kyodo news agency has an English-language site with a neat, graphical at-a-glance illustration for those who can't be bothered with actual words or numbers.
I guess there won't be any actual data to look at until after 20:00 when the polls close. If anyone knows of a better source than these to get a good overview of the election, feel free to drop a note in the comments.