Monday, September 14, 2009

Quick Note: The Ozawa Party and the Ozawa-Not Administration

I may have touched on this before, but take a look at where the names fingered by the media for the Hatoyama Cabinet were when the Hatoyama-Kan DPJ, the Ozawa Liberal Party and lesser mortals merged to create the bigger, better DPJ in 2003:
Hirofumi Hirano, Chief Cabinet Secretary: independent from moderate labor union and close associate of Hatoyama
Naoto Kan, National Strategy Bureau Chief: DPJ
Hirohisa Fujii, Finance Minister: premerger Liberal Party, but bad blood between when he went public with his desire to see the latter step down during the political finances scandal
Katsuya Okada, Foreign Minister: The People’s Voice, parted ways with Ozawa when the latter split the New Frontier Party
Masayuki Naoshima, METI Minister?: DPJ
Yoshihiko Noda, ?: DPJ
Seiji Maehara?: DPJ
Tatsuo Kawabata?: DPJ
If you think that this looks a lot like the DPJ leadership minus Ozawa’s people—say, Diet whip Kenji Yamaoka and House of Councilors DPJ Chief Azuma Koshiishi—you’re right, it does. So Ozawa and his people run the party while the rest of the party runS policy? The resemblance to the old LDP becomes more than passing if you remember that Hatoyama beat Okada only with Ozawa’s help—shades of the unholy Nakasone-Tanaka union—and that Ozawa’s rivals lead their own group of likeminded Diet members, in contrast to the caretaker faction heads of today’s—yesterday’s?—LDP.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The DPJ leaders reportedly joining the Cabinet are more than just political players. They are mainly first-generation politicians who have shown genuine policy chops over their careers. And Yasuhiro Nakasone turned out pretty well for the DPJ—and Japan.

I won’t be surprised to see surprises tomorrow, when Hatoyama and Ozawa come to an agreement on Cabinet and major party assignments, but this looks like the shape of things to come, so I thought I’d mention it here.

Incidentally, I now think that tomorrow’s assignments will be completed without a major hitch. I still believe the second and third-tier Diet member assignments to the ministries and agencies as well as to secondary party posts is going to be a messy affair—unless Ozawa directs the traffic.

Now, back to work.

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