Thursday, September 06, 2012

Goshi Hosono Keeps the World on Hold

A movement to draft Goshi Hosono, the 41 year old Minister of Environment including nuclear safety, is under way in the DPJ. The groundswell was most likely touched off by the latest media polls, which show the DPJ trailing the LDP and the prospective Ishin-no-Kai, which Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto is expected to enter in the looming lower house election, as the electorate’s preferred choice for voting in their regional proportional districts(RPDs). This is very scary for all but the strongest candidates because a poor DPJ finish in RPDs means that fewer DPJ losers in the single-member districts will be revivified through their registration in the RPD list. Thus Thus, the advocates for his candidacy span the entire political spectrum within the DPJ, and the only obstacle to his candidacy, one which would have a good chance of unseating Prime Minister Noda, seems to be… him.

Hosono has been judicious in his choice of words and is not tipping his hand at all. He is definitely staying within character, a character that has enabled a steep yet steady rise up the political ranks without making any enemies as far as I can see. (Hosono could easily have been Ozawa’s first choice to replace Noda had Ozawa not bolted with his faithful followers.) Indeed, if there is anything that can keep him from tossing his hat into the ring, it is his apparent aversion to confrontation. Look to him to announce his candidacy in a couple of days at most, or deliver a ringing endorsement of Noda.

The immediate political consequence of a Hosono victory over Noda would be a snap lower house election at the earliest point possible, before the usual initial jump in the polls wears off for a Hosono Administration. Common sense says that the DPJ will do better under him than Noda in the general election. Policy-wise, though, it is hard to see anything different between the two, particularly since the election outcome is highly likely to be an LDP-DPJ coalition.

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