"…When I requested a meeting with Ichiro Ozawa, head of the DPJ, I had decided to resign, in view of my health. On that basis, I had intended to ask him to build a relationship of trust."
- Shinzo Abe, Sept. 24 press conference
At first, I am thinking, is he nuts? Did he really think giving himself up would convince Mr. Ozawa to stop trying to knock the LDP out of power? Then I realize that Mr. Abe is channeling those medieval warlords and - dare I say it? - our previous Emperor, who offered their lives in order to save their people. Still, this is odd; The LDP may have lost the battle, but, with an overwhelming majority in the decisive Lower House, it certainly hasn't lost the war. President Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor seeking truce with Japan by offering to commit seppuku? Hmm, still doesn't quite work.
As new election czar, Makoto "I Am Prettier than Tamisuke Watanuki but Not as Cute as Shizuka Kamei" Koga wrests substantial power out of the hands of the Secretary-General, effectively making the LDP party leadership The Big Four instead of The Big Three. Post-Upper House election reports said that Mr. Koga had refused Prime Minister Abe's request to be the General Council Chairman, the least powerful among The Big Three. Asked by Yasuo Fukuda, he refused again, instead, asking for and getting the election portfolio.
Let's see: Secretary-General, Bunmei Ibuki, 69; Toshihiro Nikai, General Council Chairman, 62; Sadakazu Tanigaki, 62; Makoto Koga, 67. Well, at least they're all younger than the Prime Minister…
The LDP and the New Komeito leadership meet and agree to require receipts for all expenditures regardless of amount (there is currently a \50,000 floor for declaring individual expenditures). Prime Minister Abe had pushed the idea before the election, but had let it slip as his power continued to deteriorate. I thought that would be disastrous, tantamount to sticking out your neck, then giving Mr. Ozawa a sledgehammer. This is a smart, if obvious, move.
The Foreign Ministry looked like the only plausible place to put Taro Aso. Now it is opening up, as current Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura is switching to Chief Cabinet Secretary. True, there are philosophical differences between Mr. Fukuda and Mr. Aso, but exogenous constraints (make nice with China, make nice with the US, keep hands and eyes on abductees issue, etc.) will confine any dissonance to symbolic, not substantive, quarters. Besides, what did Lyndon B. Johnson say about Edger J. Hoover? Long-time readers of my blog know, of course, that my predictive powers are on a par with Sylvia Brown and Uri Geller…
ADD. You know, Tobias Harris makes a good point about Mr. Aso here. No, I mean here. Actually, I thought that there would be a very high likelihood that Mr. Fukuda would offer the post, but it appears from the Sankei link that Mr. Aso is saying that if offered, he will not serve We'll know soon.