Thursday, June 03, 2010

Who the Heck Is Fifty Year-Old Shinji Tarudoko?

He’s one of the Seven Magistrates, the up and coming (at the time) boomer/post-boomer DPJ members—the others being Yukio Edano, Koichiro Gemba, Seiji Maehara, Yoshihiko Noda, Katsuya Okada, and Yosihito Sengoku—that Kozo Watanabe, long-time ally and now noisiest critic of Ichiro Ozawa, brought together during the Koizumi administration as the future of the DPJ, that’s who. The reason that we had heard so little of him in contrast to his more illustrious cohorts may have been due to the inconvenient fact that he was out of office at the time of the Gathering…that, and the fact that he appears to be the only one among the Magnificent Seven who has not distanced himself from Ozawa, if his reported support base of second-tier and younger Ozawa followers in tomorrow’s DPK presidential election is any indication. So maybe we’ll finally learn how strong the fear-free support for Ozawa is. Or not.

In the meantime, overwhelming favorite Naoto Kan has added insult to injury in a way only he can in a press conference today (3 June) announcing his candidacy, when he said, “Since Secretary-General Ozawa invited the suspicion of the Japanese people, it is for the good of himself, the DPJ, and Japanese politics that he keep quiet for a while.” ZING!

Oh Kan. And you wondered why Kan isn’t popular with his colleagues. No matter. Ask Michael Jordan’s former teammates if winning doesn’t beat nice every time. Stay tuned. Until 11 July.


T. Greer said...

Concerning Ozawa-

He is right though, and everybody knows it. Hatayoma's administration was haunted by this shadow puppeteer, and Kan needs to show to the public that he will have no part in the new one. I would go out of my to attack Ozawa too, were I in Kan's position.

Armchair Asia said...

Well, the buzz is that this guy will be party general secretary! He is a new favorite of the Alliance Managers. He made the rounds in DC in February. Noting public, but only met with the "best" of folks, especially Administration higher ups. Best buddies with Maehara and Nagashima...

There is a lot more to this story.

Jun Okumura said...

T. Greer:

I have always believed that Ozawa’s impact on policymaking was vastly overrated. He was very much restrained in the early going and first only stepped in when Hatoyama kept dithering and a delay in the budget forming process threatened. He did get bolder as Hatoyama, who did not understand the power of his office, or was constitutionally incapable of exercising it, kept caving. Kan by contrast has a mean streak and a willingness to show it in public that I think will serve him well in his dealings with Ozawa and, more often, his consiglieres.

But yes, you’re right, Ozawa has been casting a pall on the DPJ, so Kan basically did the right thing as far as the July election is concerned.

Armchair Asia:

That’s interesting. They’ll have to give him something, but the secretary-general post? That’s for all practical purposes the number two position and, more importantly, controls the party coffers and appointments. I don’t think Kan will allow Tarudoko to cast a shadow on behalf of Ozawa and his allies.

Jun Okumura said...


It’s Secretary-General Yukio Edano and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, two of the Seven Magistrates. No Tarudoko. They’re both cabinet members, but neither one has an administrative portfolio, i.e. one of the ministries or agencies. As such, they were more easily replaceable, one way of saying that my guess is that most of the other cabinet members will be kept on, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Katsuya Okada is moved to the Finance Ministry.

I like the choices. From what I’ve seen of Sengoku, he’s far more knowledgeable, communicative, and generally more appealing than the dour Hirano. And Edano? That’s a hard-ass guy for the ages, about as anti-Ozawa as you can get without knives coming out. Both are very, very smart men.

T. Greer said...

"I have always believed that Ozawa’s impact on policymaking was vastly overrated."

You are probably right on this count. However, it matters little - what is important is not Ozawa's actual influence, but the influence most Japanese people thinks he has. Politics is perception.

Jun Okumura said...

T. Greer:

I agree. But perception cannot forever or totally be divorced from reality. (Ii won’t try to define “reality” now, or ever, probably.) And the reasons and the means by which Ozawa actually intervened mattered to the policy outcome in a different way than if Hatoyama had been a true sockpuppet.