I’ve been doing most of my thinking on the next election at an online forum. Here’s my response to one question that appears to stand on its own; plus a comment that I added when I used it in a communication with an East Asia analyst:
“I think there will be two important, early tests for the DPJ—it must figure out what to do with the FY2009 supplementary budget and the FY2010 budget. It wants to roll back the first one, which will be a hellish task. How it handles the FY2010 budget creation process will give us a idea of how successful it will be in keeping its troops in line. So when it wraps up a budget bill—hopefully with plenty of time to spare before the current fiscal year expires—we will have formed a general impression of the Hatoyama administration's competence. I think that this will determine the tone of media coverage and perforce go a long way in determining the electoral fortunes of the DPJ in the 2010 UH election.
There is one matter (of far lesser political consequence) that needs to be dealt with, and dealt with soon, on the international front as well. The DPJ will have to decide conclusively what to do with the refueling operations in the Indian Ocean. In the less likely case that it decides to continue them beyond the January deadline, the Hatoyama administration must submit an extension bill in the extraordinary session it will summon in, say, October. If it doesn't, the LDP will submit its own bill. I think that it's a negative for the DPJ either way, but not a serious one.”
My comments at the time being such, I also note that an effective non-combat boots-on-the-ground presence in lieu would make the Obama administration happy. But remember that Ozawa had to shelve a similar idea, and the situation in Afghanistan looks even more desperate now.