The following comments have been significantly aided by a conversation with John Campbell.
Prime Minister Abe will not go to Yasukuni on August 15. To be more precise, he will not be seen going to Yasukuni. In fact, I am quite confident of this with regard to his entire term. I keep running into people who think that he will, typically people who hate the idea of a Japanese politician going to Yasukuni but hate Abe even more. Well, Mr. Abe could turn out to be the political moron of their dreams. But I don’t think so. You only have to remember that he recently reiterated the strategic ambiguity from his first term regarding this point to see that.
The DPJ will not break up any time soon. Yes, the media loves to speculate about realignment. But if you’re looking to realign, you want to bargain from a position of strength. You still have the Diet member numbers and you poll better than the other two potential partners. Why weaken your bargaining position before you negotiate? And let’s face it, Yoshimi Watanabe, Toru Hashimoto, and Shintaro Ishihara are not good team players. Three Alan Iversons do not a backcourt make, and they’re not even that good. Much could change by the time that the next election looms, and a waiting game is more likely to serve the interests of the DPJ incumbents.
The FY2014 consumption tax hike will not be postponed or altered. Professor Koichi Hamada can say all he wants, but the MOF minister and the LDP tax committee chairman surely carry more weight? Barring horrendous July-September numbers, surely Mr. Abe cannot be seen to be spooked by a single quarter of an economic lull, assuming it is even that.
Goshi Hosono is not going to be prime minister. Ever. Oops, that makes it four. Forget I said this.