Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Giving Kan Some Credit (though He Hasn’t Really Earned It)

Prime Minister Kan is trying to take the DPJ back to its reformist roots. His two most important policy initiatives:
1) putting the social safety net on a sound footing by raising the consumption tax rate; and
2) pushing economic reform by re-linking agricultural subsidies to FTAs—I’m talking about his bid to have Japan join the US initiative on an expanded Trans-Pacific partnership
revive the arguably two most important policy goals that Ichiro Ozawa threw under the bus when he beat Kan in the 2006 DPJ leadership election. His efforts to sideline Ozawa and his minions point to another key element of what the DPJ stood for until its fateful merger with the Ozawa forces—no more politics as usual. So why isn’t anyone giving Kan any credit for this? Or at least taking note? Could it be the reflection of an anti-DPJ bias in the MSM, which some political scientists (SR, JC, etc.) whom I know and respect claim exists?

I lay the blame squarely at the doorsteps of the prime minister’s office. Circumstances aside, it’s due to Kan’s inability to project a coherent political message and stick to it. In fact, if there’s one thing that the Founding Fathers of the ultimately successful anti-LDP movement—Ozawa, Kan, Hatoyama—it’s their inability to articulate what they stand for (something that has surprised me in Kan’s case) and give the appearance of staying on message. Another common thread that binds them, though, is their stubbornness. And that is what keeps their clocks ticking, even Hatoyama’s, who has decided that he is indispensable to Japanese politics after all. And keeps Kan plugging away, to turn the clock back to the future, the future that the DPJ saw, before it lent the eaves to Ozawa and almost lost the house.

Give Kan credit though; he isn’t giving up any time soon, like some beta version of the first-generation Terminator.


PaxAmericana said...

"So why isn’t anyone giving Kan any credit for this?"

Unfair, perhaps, but the Japanese folks I know tend to see it as just Kan and company sucking up to Keidanren and the US-Japan nexus. In other words, it's not that they are doing it out of principle, but out of slavishness. Picking Yosano didn't help on this front.

Jun Okumura said...


I agree with you on all counts including your own take on Yosano’s impact (though there’s a way to save the day, which in turn has side effects…), but disagree with the “Japanese folks [you] know”. The DPJ has been consistent on both counts except when Ozawa held power directly or through Hatoyama. Besides, it’s not just Keidanren. Most of the MSM in one way or other support the two policy initiatives—as well as the sidelining of Ozawa, at least while he’s a soon-to-be-defendant criminal suspect. Note also that Kan is one of the founding fathers of the original DPJ. It’s true that he fails to project an aura of sincerity. That’s an interesting story in itself, but I haven’t yet gathered my thoughts sufficiently to lay them out properly.

Bad Credit Loan said...

In this blog the Prime Minister Kan is trying to take the DPJ back to its reformist roots. His efforts to sideline Ozawa and his minions point to another key element of what the DPJ stood for until its fateful merger.

Climate Morio said...

SR, JC = ?

PaxAmericana said...


Well, there's always the wimpishness and insincerity that don't look good. The issue of why the MSM would attack Kan is an interesting one. Isn't he trying to do what they want? It's hard to distinguish between an editorial in the Yomiuri, Asahi, or a Kan speech.

Another possible factor is that the entire DPJ doesn't seem like they have their act together. The TV tends to show politicians in the same segment, so viewers see Kan in the context of all the other politicians that don't leave a good taste in one's mouth.

Anonymous said...

Doubt this Kan chan will last til the end of Japan`s fiscal year in
March and watch the bad guy Ozawa take his place! Yeah very sadly this society looks like it`s gone far far down the benjo lately!
Ugh man not another inept politician, man it disappoints me so!
Where`s the fresh stock and gotta quit the musical chairs act LOL!

Anonymous said...

Why can`t people just stand up for their future! It`s your future! Not just theirs!
Tired of the fact that people here are dead silent and don`t speak up!
You all just sit there on your rump with your thumb in your mouth like DUH!
At least Egypt, although a little way too over the top, at least have a society that reacts and does something about it!

American`s just don`t sit there with a thumb in their mouth either!
They certainly speak out and don`t just let their leaders decide the future!

Japan please fire Ozawa! He`s a big loser with a capital L!

Anonymous said...

Time for a modern Meiji revolution, done the smart way. Egyptians have spoke out, but that has gone too far!

Anonymous said...

Basically, we see a Japan ruled by a
Biff Tannin---like a bad 1985 Japan!
This is exactly what we are regrettably seeing! A nightmare!
Plenty to say but for now leave it that!

Anonymous said...

Hope the participation in TPP is possible!

Anonymous said...

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