The anonymous comment on this December post (should I be flattered that there’s someone whose interest extends back into my archives?) misses the obvious point that Caroline Kennedy vaulted to the top of the heap—most notably ahead of even Cuomo—mainly on the basis of name recognition. The dynastic impulse exists everywhere—it's not the genes by the way, unless you are speaking in terms of evolutionary psychology—and it’s undoubtedly stronger in Japan, but so do countercurrents. For example, I understand that there is a strong movement in the DPJ to forbid its Diet members from passing on their electoral districts.
Incidentally, I was surprised that Kennedy pulled out. Even if, as some reports suggest, she didn’t have a chance, she should have stayed in, then accepted defeat gracefully. I thought that the public relations gauntlet that she was running served as a quasi-primary of sorts and would legitimate her ascension, assuming that Governor Paterson wound up selecting her. As it is, she just looks naïve, confused, and ill-served by her advisers.