Japan's next prime minister faces the task of how to organize a new government to tackle the slew of challenges ahead - such as record unemployment and a rapidly aging society - and draw the world's second largest economy out of the worst recession since World War II.
Japan's historic House of Representatives election on Sunday ended with opposition parties snatching an overwhelming 340 seats, leaving the ruling coalition with only 140. In its historic victory, the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) alone gained 308 seats, far more than the 115 it won in 2005. The defeated Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has ruled Japan for most of the last half-century, got only 119 seats - far lower than the 300 it got in the last election. The DPJ won a complete victory in nearly a third of the electoral districts, while the LDP gained only one seat in another one-third of the total districts, suffering its first defeat since its founding in 1955. The LDP has been in control of the lower house in the past decades even when it remained out of office for 10 months between 1993 and 1994.
The Diet of Japan is a bicameral legislature, composed of a lower house (House of Representatives) and an upper house (House of Councilors).
Japan's outgoing prime minister Taro Aso has blamed the LDP's humiliating defeat on growing grievances among the public over the past years, its failure to reverse voter opinion and frequent changes of the party chief. Naoto Kan, a former DPJ leader, however, attributed the landslide defeat of the LDP to its alienation from mainstream public opinion and failure to ease people's main concerns.