Japanese business chief calls for change of government

TOKYO, July 23, 2008 (AFP) – One of Japan’s top business leaders called Wednesday for a change of government to shake up Asia’s largest economy, which faces major challenges from a shrinking population.

Democracy is still “immature” in Japan, where the Liberal Democratic Party has ruled almost continuously since it was created in 1955, said Yasuchika Hasegawa, vice chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives.

“Absolute power becomes absolutely corrupt sooner or later,” he told a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
Ruling party lawmakers “are stuck,” he said.

“They don’t have the ability to reform completely by themselves. It is time to have a leadership change,” said Hasegawa, who is also president of Japanese drug giant Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.

Japan’s economy faces an uncertain future due to a shrinking and ageing population and growing competition from regional rivals China and India.

The Liberal Democrats lost control of the upper house last July after a voter backlash sparked by a string of scandals under then premier Shinzo Abe, who subsequently resigned.

The resurgent opposition has sought to block key legislation a