Monday, September 26, 2005

Enter the Dragon

The scale of the victory of September 11 has thrust upon prime minister Koizumi a burden he never expected to be shouldering: the future of the LDP. He had probably assumed that the LDP would either change, becoming a smaller, tighter minority party controlling about 40 to 45% of the seats in the Diet, or else fall into pieces. These bits would in turn re-assemble themselves, combining with elements of the Democrats, into two large center-left and center-right coalitions.

Now, instead of a diminished LDP, Koizumi has a huge dragon. Nominally, the party is under his near-dictatorial control (one commentator, viewing footage of the first cabinet reunion after the election, spat out, "It looks like a damned CCP Politburo meeting."). It is nevertheless not hard to imagine the LDP devolving into factions the moment Koizumi steps down as party president. How can he protect the "new LDP" he has inadvertently midwived without drafting the Koizumi Children, the 80+ currently unaffiliated new members of the House of Representatives, into service as a de facto Koizumi faction? Currently, the plan is to have monthly education sessions for the newcomers--a woefully inadequate step if the PM really wants to keep his flock from seeking shelter in the LDP's traditional apportioners of party and cabinet positions, information and personal contacts.

If the prime minister had more time, he could pound the surviving factions to bits by passing over their members again and again in his cabinet appointments. However, he is going to stick to his promise to serve only one more year, in line with his intent to establish an archetypal prime ministership ("Grandpa, why do they have a statue of Koizumi shusho in Ueno Park?"). So his next cabinet will be his last.

Before getting all in a tizzy about next fall, however, let us see what was in the policy speech today.

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