National politics is only the nation's residents' concern, so it may not be interesting for people outside Japan but yesterday was a historic day in Japanese politics. The postal reform bill proposed by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi was vetoed in the upper house. Koizumi dissolved the lower house, calling for a general election. He took the unprecedented measure to exclude the members of his party who voted "No" from the list of official candidates of the Liberal Democratic party.
The way the lower house is dissolved is rather dramatic and exciting. The Emperor in postwar Japan only serves a symbolic role in politics. The prime minister can, legally speaking, dissolve the lower house at any time. He asks the Emperor to sign the official order to dissolve. The order is carried to the house in a purple cloth, and the chairman reads the order. It is customary that the M.P.s cheer the dissolvement by repeating "Banzai", partly as a wish to come back to the house after the general election.
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dissolves the lower house.