10:02pm: Have I mentioned how cool it is to be live-blogging from a newsroom?
10:01pm: Another faction leader down, Ibuki Bunmei. More time to indulge his passion for cooking?
9:59pm: There’s Aso looking grim as reporters shout questions at him. What can Aso say, at this point? Will he be gracious in defeat?
9:57pm: Koike Yuriko lost. Think back to last year’s LDP presidential election: Aso wins, Ishiba wins, Yosano loses, Ishihara wins, Koike loses. Three of five ain’t bad? Maybe Ishihara succeeds Aso?
9:55pm: NHK has the DPJ at 229 seats, 11 seats from an absolute majority.
9:54pm: Yamasaki Taku lost. Another LDP faction leader out.
9:52pm: Question in the comments about what next for the LDP. At this point, it will depend on who’s left to lead. Will Masuzoe step forward? Alternatively, do we get a chaotic scramble for the leadership?
9:50pm: NHK really is cautious. Still 183 left…
9:41pm: I’m still trying to get used to the idea that the LDP has been completely and totally crushed.
9:39pm: Here comes Hatoyama…
9:37pm: Hiranuma Takeo will survive. Hard to see a place for his third pole in a system dominated by the DPJ.
9:34pm: More shots of DPJ leaders in front of the big board. Do these guys realize what they’ve just done — and what lies ahead? Perhaps not the most inspiring bunch, but good enough to get the job done.
9:33pm: The Guardian‘s Justin McCurry is twittering from DPJ HQ.
9:32pm: NHK has the DPJ at 209.
9:31pm: Hatoyama and Ozawa, putting the first rose on the board. Ozawa’s smiling again.
9:30pm: NHK, the most cautious in calling seats, has the DPJ at 206, the LDP at 47, Komeito at 9, JCP 2, SDPJ 2, PNP 2, Others 3.
9:29pm: Hatoyama and Kan, founders of the former DPJ back in 1996, standing together for pictures.
9:28pm: And there’s Hatoyama, looking a bit shell-shocked.
9:27pm: If you have questions for me, I’ll be happy to answer.
9:23pm: Okay, I’m back. And there’s Maehara Seiji, who actually looks pretty happy. And why not, as he’s pretty much guaranteed a cabinet post.
9:05pm: Ozawa actually smiled.
9:04pm: Pausing to record for TV…
9:00pm: One hour into the DPJ era, there’s Ozawa, his lips closely pursed.
8:59pm: At this point the only thing left to figure out is whether the DPJ breaks the 320 mark. A DPJ supermajority, by itself? Fear the wrath of the Japanese people, apparently.
8:57pm: I cannot even imagine what is going through Ozawa’s mind right now.
8:56pm: There’s Ozawa, not smiling, despite having achieved a goal he has suffered to realize. Oh, and the screen next to him, there’s Michael Green.
8:55pm: Ozawa! Apparently he’ll be making an appearance soon.
8:53pm: Some activity on the LDP feed…Hosoda has a wry smile on his face. I suppose there’s not much else to do.
8:52pm: It looks like Asao Keiichiro, my former boss, may have won a PR seat in South Kanto for the YP.
8:50pm: Current NHK projection: LDP 42, DPJ 176, Komeito 9, JCP 2, SDPJ 1, PNP 1, Others 3.
8:49pm: A Reuters cameraman just arrived to film me updating this blog. Totally meta.
8:47pm: Former Prime Minister Kaifu lost in Aichi. Possible DPJ sweep in Aichi.
8:45pm: I’m still waiting to see Ozawa’s face. Did he ever expect that the LDP could be toppled in such dramatic fashion?
8:43pm: Oh God. Hatoyama Yukio will be the prime minister.
8:42pm: I’m at something of a loss for words, perhaps surprised that there were no surprises.
8:32pm: Word of the evening: kibishi.
8:29pm: Given the results, we will know the shape of the DPJ cabinet — at least its leading figures — very quickly. Remember that the DPJ said its transition team would get to work Monday. Will the Aso government be cooperative in Japan’s first experience with a transition of this sort, as the DPJ has requested?
8:27pm: Akamatsu Hirotaka, the DPJ’s election chief, looks stony faced despite his party’s being swept into power this evening.
8:26pm: “Aso’s in,” shouts someone on the other side of the newsroom. Talk about the LDP being above 100 seats.
8:23pm: The LDP board is going to look awfully sad when they get around to putting up roses for the winners.
8:21pm: Asahi is projecting a DPJ sweep of Hokkaido’s twelve districts, which means farewell to Nakagawa Shoichi, Machimura Nobutaka, and Takebe Tsutomu.
8:19pm: Kawamura and Hosoda are at the Kantei. I can only imagine what that meeting must be like.
8:16pm: Watanabe Yoshimi, not surprisingly, wins his seat in Tochigi. YP will have at least one.
8:15pm: Still waiting for more on threatened LDP heavyweights…
8:13pm: It is worth pausing to consider that history is happening exactly as we expected. The Japanese people have made their choice. They have chosen hope over fear, chosen the possibility that things might be better. Hard work ahead, but tonight will indeed be for celebrating.
8:11pm: A shot of Hatoyama, looking stony-faced, on his way to DPJ headquarters. Personally I’m waiting to see Ozawa, considering that he is the architect of this victory.
8:10pm: Asahi already has projected that the DPJ has 272 seats, a comfortable majority.
8:10pm: Suga Yoshihide looks, well, like one would expect him to look after learning that his party is flirting with 100 seats.
8:09pm: Abe Shinzo will also survive.
8:08pm: The race in Kanagawa-11 has apparently been called for Koizumi Shinjiro.
8:07pm: The blue on Asahi‘s election map is spreading like an inkblot across Japan. It really looks as if the returns are meeting all expectations. There is one report that suggests 321, a supermajority for the DPJ.
8:04pm: The LDP range is 84-131.
8:03pm: It’s incredible being in a news room now. At 8pm the room filled with action all at once.
8:02pm: NHK’s exit poll report suggests a range of 298 to 329 for the DPJ. “Democrats win big.”
8:01pm: The early distribution is DPJ 147, LDP 39, Komeito 9, JCP 2, PNP 1, YP 1, Independent 1.
8:00pm: Nagatsuma Akira, the DPJ’s “Mr. Nenkin,” is called first.
7:59pm: At present the LDP headquarters feed simply shows the face of Suga Yoshihide up close.
7:58pm: NHK will be updating its results here.
7:57pm: NHK is showing votes being counted frantically.
7:54pm: One question that we ought to be considering is whether the DPJ will gain at the expense of both the LDP and other opposition parties, or whether the DPJ’s coattails will extend to its likely coalition partners. In her closing pitch Saturday, Fukushima Mizuho, head of the Social Democratic Party of Japan, stressed that “it won’t be good if the DPJ wins alone.”
7:50pm: Mainichi reports that turnout as of 6pm was 48.40%, slightly less than that in 2005, but given the heavy amount of early voting, turnout this year is still expected to exceed 2005’s.
7:46pm: I have set up shop at Reuters in Akasaka, where I’ll be following the election returns and, as soon as we have results that seem conclusive, appearing on Reuters TV to provide analysis. I have a row of TV monitors tuned to the major networks plus live feeds at LDP and DPJ headquarters, so I’ll have plenty to choose from when it comes to updating the returns.
We should be getting the first exit polls in ten minutes or so.