Sunday, May 16, 2010

DPJ Squeeze on Coalition Partners Begins

I’ve been working on the beginnings of a series of posts on Japanese politics. In the meantime, a quickie:

Asahi Shimbun reports that the DPJ is including in its Upper House election platform a pledge to reduce the 242 member Upper House by 40 seats. This can be done by the following means, or a combination thereof:

1) Reduce proportional seats, currently at 96.
2) Consolidate prefectural districts, eliminating for most practical purposes the 2-seat floor—one per triennial election, in which half of the seats come up for election—for the smallest prefectures, which are grossly overrepresented as currently configured.
3) Exacerbate the overrepresentation of the 2-seat prefectures.

1) is sure to be a large part of the answer—at the expense of the mini-and micro-parties, who pin their hopes on the proportional voting. Thus the SDP and PNP cannot like this one bit. The SDP should be particularly troubled, since Prime Minister Hatoyama is drifting inexorably towards a intra-coalition showdown on the Futenma question with a proposal that includes relocation within Okinawa. This is anathema to the SDP, whose leadership is fundamentally at odds with the Japan-US alliance. But the LDP is likely to fall in line with some version of this option, which means that a legislative bill on this point will have an excellent chance of passing in the current Diet session. The DPJ may have already begun reshaping the coalition, something that I had not expected to happen before the July election.


sigma1 said...

If the overall objective is to entrench a 2 party system then I am sure 1 will be a part of it. Actually Okada posted an interesting reflection on this issue on his own blog which suggests that certain no.1 is where the government is looking. He starts off nicely by arguing for the "vitality" of multi-party systems but ends with the perfectly reasonable suggestion of eventually decreasing the LOWER HOUSE PR seats from 180 to obviously they are looking ahead.

Jun Okumura said...


What major parties, be they one, two, or three, always want to do is squeeze out the small fry, then kill off the real competition. Never mind what Ozawa or anyone else says, I am convinced that what any self-respecting politician wants is a my party system—and damn the rest. Operating systems, religions, coffee shops, you name it, it's the same as in any other line of business.

sigma1 said...

"I am convinced that what any self-respecting politician wants is a my party system"

Ha, so true. I guess the best any self-respecting public can do thus is ensure that in the pursuit of this strategy conforms to some charade of fairness (cf. pre-1993) :-)

Jun Okumura said...

Yeah, and to make my point even clearer, did Michael Jordan ever say, "Let Charles/John/Karl/Patrick have the next one, I'm sitting it out"? (Okay, he did, for while, sorta, but that's another story.) Did Larry Bird say to Magic after a finals shellacking, "Thanks, I needed that"? I thought so.

In a democracy, the popular vote takes the place of Father Time . We don't even need to exercise our rights wisely; all we have to do is to make sure that everything come to an end. It keeps the bad karma down.