Spending most of the day looking up data on private middle schools and high schools (there's definitely a great story to be told from an unconventional angle there, but I think I need significant collaboration), I've had little time to think. But I'd like to briefly touch on his morning's Soichiro Tawara Sunday Project.
Naoto Kan, three-time DPJ party head and currently deputy to party chief Ichiro Ozawa, came on to explain away the Kanagawa/Osaka by-election loss. I was not paying close attention (I was simultaneously surfing for middle and high school data), but what struck me were a couple of exchanges Mr. Kan had with Mr. Tawara. Mr. Tawara questioned Mr. Ozawa's Diet face-off with Prime Minister Abe, making basically the same point that I did here, that Mr. Ozawa didn't address the issues that mattered. The only defense Mr. Kan seemed to be making for Mr. Ozawa was that he was being nice to the much younger, novice prime minister. Mr. Tawara also seemed to criticize Mr. Ozawa for his trip to Beijing, where he seemed to be trying to elicit a hard-line approach from Hu Jintao. Here, Mr. Kan more or less said Mr. Ozawa was speaking for himself. This led Mr. Tawara (and other commentators) to chastise the DPJ for not being able to get their act together. (Seijuro Shiokawa, former LDP faction leader and still youthful octogenarian talking head called it a lack of governance.) Mr. Kan offered no better rebuttal than to say the DPJ was taking its time.
With a friend like him, who needs…
Seriously, the DPJ is blessed with a plethora of youthful, articulate legacy-free policy wonks, yet it's hard to shake the feeling that you are watching an intramural debating society, and you have these old guys who never seem to manage to graduate. No wonder the natives are getting restless.
Incidentally, Ichita Yamamoto, Mr. Abe's LDP foreign policy go-to guy acquitted himself excellently in deftly fending off the nationalist commentator Yoshiko Sakurai and would-be realpolitik ideologue Hisahiko Okazaki, who were obviously discomfited by Mr. Abe's positions as prime minister on the Murayama (on Japanese responsibility to China and elsewhere in Asia) and Kono (on comfort women) speeches and Yasukuni. He claimed, and I have no reason to doubt him, that he had made it clear that he would not take up a role in the administration. I think that was an astute move. Having more in common with the first-generation DPJ policy wonks, he is clearly a man to keep an eye on in the coming years.