Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Random Firings of the Synapses on the New Fukuda Cabinet, Factions, Reformist Prime Ministers and Stuff

Got a long email from Mentor, gave a shorter response. Lightly edited and excised of personal stuff, here it is:

- Yasuo Fukuda takes over from Shinzo Abe, and there's only one new face in the cabinet. Is there anything that better symbolizes the LDP? Shoichi Nakagawa could take over one year from now and, if he could stay away from the Yasukuni Shrine, I don't think we'd notice the difference.

- habatsu; or, faction: a Japanese sport, played mainly by LDP men. Most cognoscenti of the sport consider the heydays of the SanKakuDaiFuku League the Golden Age of competitive, full-contact habatsu, when the weakest teams usually had at least one superstar and a legitimate chance to win it all.

Contemporary habatsu is an intramural-recreation game. After the game is over, all the players on all the teams get together and throw a big karaoke party. What can I say, it serves a useful objective. If nothing else, it proves that man is a social animal.

The DPJ plays a more primitive, freestyle game, but the objectives seem to be converging. The DPJ players want a big fat karaoke party of their own, and are beginning to smell the fried chicken and beer.

The problem is, there's only one karaoke set, and the LDP and DPJ are now too big to fit into the one karaoke room at the same time. This, I think, is a variety of the two-party political system that allows small floaters to play both sides of the game. Let's call it, meta-habatsu.

Sorry, that's about all I can say now on habatsu. I'll see if I can come up with some meaningful thoughts on dissenters and discontents, and their effect on team cohesion.

- I've long believed that Ryutaro Hashimoto has been underrated. In terms of potential, I rank him up there with Yasuhiro Nakasone. And I'm not saying that because he came to love METI. But that's what happens when you lose. Twice. People think of Noboru Takeshita as a pol of pols. But he got the consumption tax done. Gave me hope for the entire LDP with that too.

A true reformer would have to overhaul the entire FILP from head to tail, and that means that he has to redo the Post Office thing. As for the highways – Junichiro Koizumi really botched that one; maybe he was no better than that – Mr. Fukuda has said stuff that suggests, hints, that he'll backtrack on that. Politically, it would make at least as much sense as throwing money at 90-year old small-plot farmers; as statecraft, it would leave something to be desired. But let's keep hoping.


Matt Dioguardi said...

This is an excellent post.

Reasonableness and political reality are so far apart in Japan (and many other countries as well) that people with an interest in politics have to spend most their time trying to understand the covert rules by which the players are playing as opposed to discussing meaningful issues such as say substantial legislation and what effect it might have.

This of course dampens one's spirit at times.

Anonymous said...

Did you happen to notice that your favorite blogger was appointed minister in charge of disaster management?

Jun Okumura said...

Mr. Dioguardi – may I call you Matt? - thank you for your kind words. I hope you found it entertaining as well; I'd rather be funny than right. My only worry is that non-Japanese readers who only casually follow Japanese politics won't be able to make heads or tails out of it. But I do hope they too enjoyed the metaphor.

Anonymous, good to hear from you again; that's you, Mellifluous Knish, right? That's weird though, mimi smartypants is an American. (I think.)


Um, I don't think that this is a blog. I don't even know the guy. Oh well, thanks for coming.

Anonymous said...

You are neither funny nor right. You do indeed have a lot of free time for self-absorbed play.

Jun Okumura said...

Mellifluous Knish, or M.K. for short, I thank you again for using your precious time to respond to my comments. I don't think that I'd ever given any thought to who my favorite blogger is, and my preferences change over time. (For example, I don’t think that I've read the Freakonomics blog in a long, long while.) But since you mentioned it, I gave it some thought. It came down to mimi smartypants and Overheard in New York, and, although OINY lapped mm in the dirty urban humor department with sheer volume, I had to give it to mm for her ginormous love for her adopted Chinese daughter. I mean, kids and animals, right?

And the Minister in charge of disaster prevention is Shinya Izumi, which fact I only found out when I went to the Prime Minister's web site. And he does post essays on his official web site, though they do not constitute a blog. Frankly, I didn't understand what the hell you were talking about.

As for your name, let's just say that, when you don't identify yourself, you give up your own naming rights. It's the price you pay for anonymity. Be glad; I could have named you (but did not for a good reason) Atonal Bagel, or even Dissonant Pretzel.