An email exchange with a financial analyst reminded me that ’s a lot of apprehension out there over the policy prospects of a minority DPJ—let’s face it, the PNP no longer counts—government. Far be it for me to say that gridlock is good, but there’s a case to be made that within the context of a fractious opposition including Komeito—demonstrably flexible and similarly urban, middle class, social spenders domestically and pacifist overseas—a series of flexible issues-oriented alliances will be more consonant with the implementation of a coherent policy agenda than an official coalition. A minority partner will inevitably secure policy concessions that do not match up with the majority partner’s overall policy agenda. It will also be able to exercise control over its cabinet assignments as a virtual enclave, further sapping coherence. Case in point: the Hatoyama administration.
Of course if the opposition ever got its act together, it will be hell for the DPJ. But I don’t think that’s going to happen, when everybody has an eye on a possible, more extensive political reshuffle down the line, most likely sometime after the next lower house general election.