Thursday, December 06, 2007

Are Mssrs. Watanuki and Maehara Abandoning the Peace Boat Because They Read My Blog?

Fat chance. In fact, strains in the opposition’s support for Ichirō Ozawa’s extreme hard-line on the refueling resumption bill had already begun to surface when Yukio Hatoyama, ex-DPJ leader and Mr. Ozawa’s co-deputy, indicated* that he could support putting the bill to a vote in the Upper House (instead of (make-believe) running out the clock and facing down Prime Minister Fukuda). Now, a couple of more serious cracks have emerged as two opposition leaders aired their dissatisfaction yesterday (5 December).

Opposition micro-party leader Tamisuke Watanuki** gave a press conference and according to the Asahi said, “Unless we reach a conclusion [on the refueling resumption bill], we will be ignoring the people. [The DPJ] says that [the Upper House, where the bill has been forwarded,] will only hold sessions on the regularly scheduled days, but think how much we waste if we extend the Diet session for a single day?”

Now Mr. Watanuki may have an extra axe to grind, because according to this report, his People’s New Party are mad at the DPJ because the latter is not forthcoming in coordinating support for the next election. Besides, he hasn’t quite come out in favor of the bill itself. But the same day, the pro-defense Seiji Maehara, another Ozawa co-deputy and DPJ ex-leader, revealed his dilemma in a talk he gave in the Diet building, saying, in report from the Asahi, “If we gave up and didn’t extend the extraordinary Diet session, the activities in the Indian Ocean will face a long interruption. Our party will be in trouble if we are criticized for this. (They’ll ask) if we are considering the national interest? I don’t know how I will be able to make election campaign speeches.”***

Whatever their real views are, these men have gauged the public sentiment, as has Mr. Fukuda in making up his mind to re-extend the Diet session and exercise the supermajority override in the Lower House if necessary (if this report is to be believed). Now I’m pretty sure that the Prime Minister had intended all along to do that. But it’s significant that he (or his handlers) is now informing the public. It is even more extraordinary that Mssrs. Watanuki and Maehara are going public as well; it’s their way of saying, Ozawa isn’t listening.

Today, Mr. Ozawa and his entourage leave for the Beijing photo-op. So I guess my question is, did the emperor pack any clothes?

* Reported here, and commented briefly in the third footnote of this post

** Mr. Watanuki’s heart, if not his soul, still belongs to the LDP. It is important to remember that Mr. Watanuki never believed that Prime Minister Koizumi would call a snap election in 2005 after the Upper House voted down his Post Office privatization bill. If Mr. Watanuki had known how things would turn out, he - or Shizuka Kamei for that matter - would never have forced a showdown.

*** Mr. Maehara also stated, “It’s important to enhance the status of the UN, but we should not take the position that Japan will not act if there is no UN resolution whatever the case may be.”

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