Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Sentaku Addendum

Shisaku (here too), Observing Japan and this blog have all been holding forth on Sentaku. It somehow reminded me of how TIME and Newsweek would wind up having the same subject - one that comes to mind is Michael Jackson - for their feature stories in the same week. Beyond the obvious cases like major catastrophes or US presidential election votes, does that still happen?

Anyway, I’ll post something here that may shed some light on Shisaku’s “existential point”.

I mentioned in a footnote that the group has a Koizumi-Abe air. Indeed, they include several Koizumi kids and Upper House Koizumi recruits, as well as some important friends of Mr. Abe like Nobuteru Ishihara and Yoshide Suga. None of them can be said to be faring particularly well under the Fukuda administration, which relies on more traditional sources of LDP power. On the other hand, because of the DPJ's overall youthfulness, the list of its participants does include two former leaders in Katsuya Okada and Seiji Maehara. Mr. Okada bolted the LDP as a rookie Diet member with Ichirō Ozawa, but now appears to be maintaining a healthy distance from him (not that that is an unusual event for so many of Mr. Ozawa’s once-close associates). Mr. Maehara, of course, has even more reasons to avoid Mr. Ozawa. Thus, although a thorough review of the list may review otherwise, the list as a whole appears to reflect to at least some extent the more modernist elements of the discontents of the two major parties.

It is also notable that Dr. Sasaki - if I remember correctly - in the press conference gave in explaining the reasons for re-launching a manifest-oriented initiative admitted that the manifest process that the 21st Century Rinchō had succeeded in persuading the political parties to adopt had been degenerating into a pro forma act. I like to think that this dovetails nicely with my oft-voiced complaint that the DPJ under Mr. Ozawa has been adopting positions that aim to please only or even focusing on matters that have no place in the manifest that it claims to have received the public mandate for. As for the LDP, who even cares anymore?

Does this portend a possible move towards a new coalition in the middle - including the New Kōmeitō, a far more cohesive political party that is also represented in the political Sentaku? My answer remains: no. Given the wide range of choices in leadership that the two antagonists have made in their bid to pleasure the electorate and the policy shifts that the chosen have been able to impose on their respective parties, it is my belief that it makes far more sense for aspirants within the political Sentaku to work to seize power within their respective parties than to take their chances that they can grow a cross-party coalition into a viable power base in its own right.

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