Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Very Briefly, on DPJ Courting of New People’s Party; and the LDP Race

Media reports have DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa meeting People’s New Party head Tamisuke Watanuki today to propose a merger. As quid pro quo in this buyout, Mr. Ozawa will offer a Post Office privatization freeze—another new item for the election platform, whose fiscal implications are unclear—and accept the PNP incumbents as the official DPJ candidates in their districts. At least two of them have felt threatened by the DPJ search for candidates of its own. Does it sound just a little bit like the beginning of a yakuza movie? Love and war, and politics, I guess.

This, like talking up Mr. Ozawa’s possible relocation to Tokyo 12th District to challenge incumbent Akio Oota, the New Komeito chief, may be sound political tactics and certainly has drawn some of the media attention ways from… well, drawn some media attention. But it’s a mixed blessing as far as their strategic implications are concerned. They put the spotlight on the least-attractive, gamesmanship face of the media-shy Mr. Ozawa. Let’s wait and see, though, if Mr. Watanuki, equally seasoned in old school politics, blinks.

As expected, after Junichiro Koizumi failed to follow up his endorsement of Yuriko Koike with any further show of affection, and as Taro Aso continued to roll up the votes—media estimates already give him an absolute majority of the eligible votes—the media’s interest in the LDP race has been waning.

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