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.