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.