Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Mainstream Media (Mostly) Calls for Ozawa’s Head

All the major dailies carried editorials on the Nishimatsu case on the day after Ichiro Ozawa’s publicly installed (i.e. explicitly paid with the taxpayer’s money) secretary was indicted for political financing violations. The titles show where they stand:
The Nishimastsu Political Contribution Scandal—[DPJ] President Ozawa Should Resign (西松献金事件―小沢代表は身を引くべきだ) Asahi
Mr. Ozawa’s Secretary Indicted Continuing as [DPJ] President Is Unpersuasive (小沢氏秘書起訴 代表続投は説得力に欠ける) Mainichi
Publicly Installed Secretary Indicted The Thorny Path Ahead as [DPJ] President Ozawa Stays on (公設秘書起訴 小沢代表続投後のイバラの道) Yomiuri
Publicly Installed Secretary Indicted Mr. Ozawa Staying on Won’t Do (公設秘書起訴 小沢氏続投は通らない) Sankei
Asahi, Mainichi and Sankei also agree that:
1) It’s not really about the legal infraction per se, it’s the suspicion of a quid pro quo regarding public works.
2) The rest of the DPJ are wusses.
3) Pox on both (DPJ and LDP) houses.
Yomiuri is the only one not calling on Ozawa to resign. But that is not the only point on which the Yomiuri editorial differs from the others. In fact, it skips most of 1) through 3) and concentrates instead on disclosure, and is the only one that mentions the need for disclosure on the part of the Public Prosecutors Office, given the proximity of the arrest to a Lower House general election. Do you think Yomiuri’s (relative) sympathy has anything to do with its leader Tsuneo Watanabe’s past efforts to promote a grand coalition between the DPJ and LDP—an idea that went down very well with Ozawa? Just sayin’.

Now most voters do not make it a part of their daily habits to read newspaper editorials. But many opinion-makers do, including reporters, whose reporting is bound to be colored by the desires of their employers. The rest of the media are likely to want to see Ozawa go down, if only because of the news value. They don’t want to grant the LDP’s fondest wishes and let Ozawa stay, the Yomiuri possibly being the only notable exception.

That is not to say that the Yomiuri doesn’t have a point about the Public Prosecutors Office. It carries a report regarding the PPO’s actions with former prosecutors speaking out—on the record—on both sides of the issue. What comes through in their comments is their perception of the PPO’s role as a self-appointed guardian of public morals that goes beyond the letter of the law, a subject that I took up here.


Unknown said...

"It’s not really about the legal infraction per se, it’s the suspicion of a quid pro quo regarding public works."

What quid pro quo could Ozawa extend from the opposition bench?

Jun Okumura said...

Sorry I didn’t make myself clearer, Ross. I meant the quid pro quo that the media and much of the public suspects Nishimatsu requested and got for its money from the Ozawa people. Of course no one on this planet believes that this is a Japanese problem that is limited to the Big O. As a practical matter though, “We’re no worse than the DPJ/LDP” works (if that’s the word for it) better for the LDP; the DPJ cannot win a race to the bottom. If nothing else, that will bring Ozawa down.