Seven LDP members, defying the party leadership’s decision to abstain, voted for the non-confidence motion in the lower house against the Noda Cabinet. The most remarkable thing about the media report was the way that it put the spotlight on Shinjiro Koizumi, the 31 year old first-term member who inherited his seat from his father, former Prime Minister Koizumi. The Asahi headline reads “Seven LDP members, Mr. Shinjiro Koizumi and Others, Rebel; Search for Rival Candidate [against Tanigaki]?” The article itself more or less repeats this rendering, then adds in the subsequent paragraph that “those voting against it were, other than Mr. Koizumi, former Secretary-General Hidenao Nakagawa; Yoshihide Suga, former Minister of Internal Affairs and Communication; former Yasuhisa Shiozaki, former Chief Cabinet Secretary; Katsuyuki Kawai, former Senior Parliamentary Vice-Minister of Justice; and Masahiko Shibayama and Kenta Matsunami, members of the House of Representatives.” Mainichi reports that “Former Secretary-General Hidenao Nakagawa, who is reluctant with regard to a consumption tax hike, and Mr. Shinjiro Koizumi, who had argued for a hard line, and other LDP members, seven in all, cast votes in favor in the plenary.” The Yomiuri headlines “Seven LDP Members, Mr. Shinjiro[!] and Others, ‘Rebel’…Cabinet No-Confidence Motion Defeated” and goes on to report that “Seven LDP members, Former Secretary-General Hidenao Nakagawa and head of the Youth Department Shinjiro Koizumi and others, cast votes in favor.” Finally, Sankei gives no names in the headline but provides a text similar to Yomiuri’s.
Note that the reports take pains to follow an unwritten protocol in determining the order of appearance when the names of two or more LDP members are given in sequence. And yes, the hardcopy Yomiuri for one does not carry that online report and makes no effort to highlight Koizumi. Moreover, there’s a good chance that Koizumi and Nakagawa happened to be the ones who held the post-vote press briefing on behalf of the seven and, less plausibly, the Yomiuri reporter (or the editor back in Yomiuri headquarters) was the only person to seek the names of the five others.
But if so, the assumption that the seven allowed Koizumi, together with his father’s former second-in-command, to make the announcement and the consequent fact that the Asahi, Mainichi, and Sankei did not bother to ask are telling. As far as the media are concerned, Mr. Shinjiro Koizumi is the Chosen One. And the LDP, from the elders down to his first-term cohorts, will not be complaining, not when the media have his back and a snap election is looming. Unlike the case of the DPJ holdouts, all will be soon forgiven, if not ignored altogether.
Do you know who Koizumi Junior reminds me of? Ronald Reagan. Koizumi has the same calm and easy stage presence and delivery that masked Reagan’s killer instincts and enabled him to maintain a benign aura even when he launched savage attacks against opponents, “welfare queens,” and other Republican targets.