Saturday, October 11, 2008

One Consequence of the Hit the Koizumi Kids will Take in the Upcoming Lower House Election

The DPJ is not without its own heirloom parliamentarians. In fact, Ichiro Ozawa and his deputy Yukio Hatoyama are second- and fourth-generation Diet members respectively. However, the LDP overwhelms the DPJ as far as pedigrees are concerned. To give just one example, the last four Prime Ministers including incumbent Taro Aso are all heirloomers, born, growing up, and working in Tokyo, only to assume control of the family estate in due time, much like the Ottoman nobles who enjoyed the fruits of their fiefdoms from the distant court of the Caliphate, where they habitually engaged in political intrigues.

There’s nothing wrong about children following their parents into politics; we can assume at least that there’s less likelihood of their stealing from us. One downside though is that their hearts may not really be into the task*, that they may be doing it merely out of filial piety—we saw how that turned out with Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda. This, perhaps more unfortunately, also excluded many ambitious professionals and crackerjack bureaucrats, who turned instead to the DPJ to find their entry into national politics. Enter Junichiro Koizumi and his Post-Office snap election.

One of the unintended achievements of the Koizumi-Kids first-term Lower House members who were elected in the 2005 landslide LDP victory has been the broadening of the LDP gene pool. The newbies brought in new blood into the LDP. They were the very kind of people who might have migrated to the DPJ, or given up thoughts of entering the political arena altogether; instead, they listened to the fateful siren call of Mr. Koizumi and his minions to join the LDP cause. Now, as the tide has turned for the worse, it is widely believed that the Koizumi hatchlings will bear the brunt of an enormous LDP setback. This will significantly tilt the balance back in favor of heirloomers, which bodes ill for the LDP’s long-term fortunes.

* I remember a journalist who had covered the Kantei for many years and whom I very much respect telling me a couple of years ago that the only thing that could keep Shinzo Abe from the Prime Minister’s office was a refusal by Mr. Abe to serve. (I think I blogged this at the time.)

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