Monday, September 10, 2012

It’s taken five days since I declared Sadakazu Tanigaki, the current president of the LDP who should be everyone’s choice for best neighbor, dead before he entered the paddocks, but it’s finally official: he’s taken himself out of the race in favor of Nobuteru Ishihara, the LDP Secretary-General*, the stated reason being that two members of the party leadership should not run for the presidency at the same time. No, that doesn’t make sense in Japanese society either, and yes, it essentially means that he got stared down by his own deputy and fellow faction member. A good friend “had been sure he would quit last Friday, but I guess some people can't read the handwriting on the wall even when in big neon letters.” All of the above… very much in character.

Thank you, Mr. Tanigaki.

He had me worried a little since he could have siphoned votes away from Nobuteru Ishihara, causing a one-two finish runoff between Shigeru Ishiba and Shinzo Abe (assuming Abe in turn could convince his faction leader Nobutaka Machimura to step down, a significantly more difficult task than waving Tanigaki away). John Campbell is running a contest on the SSJ Forum and I have Ishihara going all the way to the prime minister’s office.

Speaking of a runoff, I wonder why the LDP (the DPJ as well) goes immediately to a head-to-head runoff when there is no majority winner in the first round. It shouldn’t be that much trouble eliminating them one by one, letting the devil take the hindmost in each round until someone receives an outright majority of the votes.** That’s what they do in the US when they nominate presidential candidates, if only theoretically these days, isn’t it? Likewise when choosing a city to host the Olympics. It seems more sensible. I can see the logistical benefits of a two-round playoff system when you have millions of people voting simultaneously, but that’s not a problem for a Japanese political party. At most, you have 480 + 242 = 722 Diet members at the absolute upper limit of voters in the second round and beyond.

Now, back to work.

* Technically number three but in fact the second most powerful position in the LDP.
** You can potentially shorten the process with a de minimus rule.

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