Tuesday, March 11, 2008

“No Budget Talk, We Are Offended,” Says DPJ

This is in the Asahi, so nobody can be accused of setting up the DPJ. Let me translate for you:

The informal meeting of the directors of the Upper House Budget Committee was held on the 10th, where the ruling parties sought to hold hearings on the FY 2008 budget bill. However, the DPJ was angered because the government with regard to the BOJ appointments introduced its plan to promote Deputy Governor Toshirō Mutō, so it was determined that they would confer further.

The top DPJ director Mitsuru Sakurai explained that it did not consent to hearing under orders from the party leadership. He told the reporters, “Someone that we could not accept was nominated, and was nominated with little time left. (The Diet) is abnormal as a whole and we interpreted our orders to mean that we should not even agree to holding hearings on the budget.” Budget Committee Chairman Yoshitada Kōnoike criticized the DPJ, saying, “It is inexcusable to put the BOJ appointments and hearings on the budget bill on the same level and use them as tools for the political game.”

But, the DPJ is willing to hold hearings on the BOJ appointments, it seems.

I am not sure that Mr. Sakurai realizes how irresponsible this exchange must be making the DPJ look in the eyes of independent voters (while undermining his own personal authority), but I am pretty sure that the “leadership” is a leadership of one, the enigmatic, volatile Ichirō Ozawa. You remember how his long-suffering deputy Yukio Hatoyama has had to harden his position on Mr. Mutō and kept embroidering his reasons for rejecting him as Mr. Ozawa indulges his hopeless obsession for an early snap election.

Even if the increasing DPJ intransigence turns out to be entirely the product of the usual escalation and hardening of positions as a negotiating deadline approaches, I no longer see much room for a DPJ climb-down, and the LDP isn’t helping. The LDP game plan seem to be: be as conciliatory as possible on the gasoline taxes and road construction expenditures, and hold fast on the BOJ appointments. It looks like it’s working so far.

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