Going one better on the DPJ, the LDP is moving to deny official candidate status to sons and daughters of retiring Diet members this Lower House general election. This measure, if enacted—it’s not yet a done deal—will affect two candidates, Hideo Usui and Shinjiro Koizumi, son of Junichiro “I will destroy the LDP” Kiozumi, the “reformist” Prime Minister. Now, I know nothing about the Usuis, but I am sure that this will enhance Mini-K’s chances of getting elected on the Kanagawa 11th District ballot.
Mini-K is a twenty-something about whom little is known except his parentage, his good looks, and a brief stay at CSIS, a Washington think tank. He is facing a challenge from a DPJ candidate that is about as far from him as is humanly possible. His “challenger” rose from modest upbringings—he is the son of a truck driver—to become a successful lawyer (note that becoming a lawyer in Japan requires a considerable amount of intelligence and an inhuman degree of time and effort) and has now decided to turn his gifts to making the world a better place for his fellow man. (And if I may say so, the photo on his official web site looks very different from other photos of him taken under less staged circumstances. To put it another way, the official photo looks about as natural as…well, if you’re interested in this subject, I suggest you read this.) Add to this the anti-LDP winds blowing through the nation, and it was no sure thing that Mini-K would be the first past the stile on his first try. Thus, the underdog sales pitch that the denial of official recognition will give him should be a welcome blast of tailwind.
To be sure, there are a couple of downsides to the loss of the LDP seal of approval. First, he won’t have access to LDP campaign funds. But he’ll still be much better off with his dad’s leftover money (yes, the Koizumis can pass it on, tax-free I believe, though I’ll have to check if you insist) and political machine.
…which brings me to my final point. Political allegiance at the local level is more personal than institutional, especially where it involves long-serving Diet Members. It is for nothing that the LDP is sometimes called the 自分党 (Me Party), not the 自民党 (LDP). If anything, the denial of official status will only make the Koizumi political machine work harder for the favorite son. And when he is elected, all will be forgiven as far as the LDP is concerned.
Mini-K does run another, more significant risk. If he loses to the DPJ candidate, he cannot sneak back in by way of a parallel, regional proportional candidacy. But let’s face it; if this guy has long-term political ambitions, he is much better off losing this election to fight another day (when an official LDP candidacy will be all but assured) than sneaking in through the back door. At least that’s how I see it.