Saturday, June 05, 2010

Koshiishi to Ozawa, No Hard Feelings, Just Business?

New Prime Minister Naoto Kan quickly moved to sideline Ichiro Ozawa, political regent to nominal DPJ head Yukio Hatoyama, first verbally with a barb telling him to lay quiet for a while, then naming Yukio Edano, Ozawa’s archenemy, to replace the latter as secretary-general. (As secretary-general, Ozawa had controlled the DPJ purse strings and party appointments.) The nomination of Yoshito Sengoku as Chief Cabinet Secretary could not have pleased Ozawa either. These maneuvers led to news reports about Ozawa and his associates issuing veiled threats to challenge Kan in the September DPJ presidency election—Kan is serving out the remainder of Haotyama’s term, which in turn was the remainder of Ozawa’s original two-year term. But if this Sankei report is correct, Azuma Koshiishi, an abrasive 74 year-old former Nikkyoso leader and head of the Upper House DPJ, is having none of it, warning that an “engaging in something that looks like an internal battle and we would never gain the trust of the people.” Koshiishi had been one of Ozawa’s closest associates as his DPJ second-in-command and frequent go-to guy for dropping the hammer, but he’s standing up for his people (and himself; he faces a competitive election for his Upper House seat), and his people are in the Upper House. It reminds you of the Era of the Warlords.

I’ve been telling people that Ozawa doesn’t have relationships, he has alliances. In fact, I’ll be surprised if he is able to take a hundred Diet members with him in a formal split. I think that the 140-150 Diet member count for a hypothetical Ozawa group is one that has been greatly inflated by the December trip to China, when he took a large number of the rookies with him. I assume that most of the “Ozawa Children” hate that nickname. These are grown men and women, most of whom had enjoyed success in their respective professions, which they’d put on hold or dropped to place a bet.


Ross said...

While I don't think it's likely, certainly not in the near term, an eventual DPJ split along policy/ideological lines could result in more coherent two-party competition. That might help the micro parties decide which way to go in terms of party system consolidation. Plus it could lead to the sort of the death of the LDP that the JSP experienced in the 1990s.

Jun Okumura said...

In which case Ozawa gets his wish. But the DPJ won't exist in its current form either.

Be careful what you wish for, I guess.

Anonymous said...

What evidence is there that Ozawa wants to split the DPJ and jeopardize their dominance over the LDP? Surely the chances of this happening are infinitesimally small.

T. Greer said...

Following up on Anon's question - what does Ozawa stand to gain by splitting off? Sure, he will have his own party, but how much electoral success could he expect such a party to have?

Jun Okumura said...


It's not what Ozawa wants to do, it's what he's likely to do and the consequences thereof. His strengths are the other side of his flaws. Plus, he seems incapable of an enduring relationship of equals. He is the closest thing to a tragic figure that Japanese politics has to offer, done in by his own essence.

Mark said...

Now that it seems likely Japan will realign its political parties, I thought I’d weigh in with some suggestions.

I’d like to see the SDP and the JCP merge. This new party would focus on providing social security, child care, health care, and education. It would support government spending in those areas, but not necessarily in public works. It would try and raise taxes on the rich (particularly the capital gains tax). It would oppose raising the sales tax. It would try to reduce defense spending and it would do its best to uphold Article 9. It would call for a reduction in U.S. forces in Japan. It would also call for strong regulations for industry.

I’d like to see the Ozawa faction split off from Minshuto and form a new party called the Rural Revival Party. This party would be a sort of pork barrel politics party, focused on spending money in rural areas to win votes. It would, of course, oppose redistricting. I think Kokumin Shinto should get merged into this new party, as the new party would try to boost Japan Post and its affiliates, particularly in rural areas. This party would also oppose raising the sales tax. It would support infrastructure projects.

I’d like to see Your Party merged into what’s left of Minshuto. Yoshimi Watanabe, Yukio Edano, Seiji Maehara, Katsuya Okada, and Renho would be in this party. This party would focus on transparency, accountability, and the control of the bureaucracy by the politicians. This party would focus on reducing wasteful government spending, particularly public works spending.

I’d like to see Shinzo Abe, Shigeru Ishiba, and Yuriko Koike move over to Tachiagare Nippon. This party would focus on international affairs. It might call for revising Article 9. It might call for increasing the ODA budget. It would call for reducing social welfare spending and public works spending. It would try to balance the budget.

What’s left of the LDP can form a new party called Kanryoto. This party would include Shinjiro Koizumi, Tadamori Oshima, and Taro Aso. This party would let the bureaucrats do what they want while the politicians did their political theater.

I don’t think it’s necessary for Japanese parties to have different trade policies. Japan already has low tariffs, which means making trade deals makes sense for Japan. The only thing Japan has to protect is its agriculture sector. Given that Japan only produces 40% of the food it consumes, I don’t think it makes sense for Japan to reduce protection in that industry.

I don’t think immigration should be a focus of the new parties. I don’t think Japanese voters want a substantial increase in immigration and I don’t think it makes sense for Japan to do that. There aren’t many politicians who want that anyways. Hopefully, in the next election, Hidenao Nakagawa will lose and go away.

As for the other parties, I’d break them up and have their members join the remaining parties.